Montana Public Radio

U.S. Forest Service

State Agency Looks To More Logging, Improved Forest Health

Mar 8, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's forestry agency is working with federal, local and private organizations to increase logging on national forests to improve forest health and decrease the risk of disease and catastrophic fires.

State lawmakers are supporting a $2.2 million request from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire people to help implement the Good Neighbor Authority program.

File photo of Forest Service helicopter crews practicing medical evacuation west of Missoula, MT. The government shutdown has put a halt to much of the Forest Service's wildfire training.
Lane Lamoreaux (PD)

Union representatives of Montana’s 7,000 federal workers impacted by the federal government shutdown say they’re pleased President Donald Trump has agreed to put them back to work for three weeks and authorize back pay. But they say questions still abound and damage has already been done.

iStock

Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, is only cautiously optimistic about the deal to end the 35 day partial government shutdown. In a statement released Friday, Tester described it as, "Only a short-term fix to this irresponsible government shutdown." 

The Republican members of Montana’s delegation, Rep. Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines, issued separate statements of support for the deal, saying it will give both parties a chance to negotiate in good faith.

A snow bike sits on a cornice near the crest of Spring Slide Mountain in the Swan Range where bikers triggered an avalanche Jan. 5, 2019.
flatheadavalanche.org

The Flathead National Forest is investigating an avalanche involving motorized snow bikes that happened on Jan. 5. The bikers may have been in an area closed to over-snow vehicles.

Keith Hammer is the chair of the Swan View Coalition in the Flathead Valley. Hammer heard about the avalanche on Spring Slide Mountain and recognized the area.

Despite the government shutdown, U.S. Forest Service supervisors last week signed a new management plan for the Flathead National Forest, along with amendments that standardize grizzly bear management for the Lolo, Kootenai and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests.

A looming partial U.S. government shutdown at midnight tonight means uncertainty for the more than 13,000 federal workers in Montana.

The federal government is the second largest single employer in Montana, making up about 3 percent of the state’s workforce. Their payroll accounts for about $1.4 billion in personal income here.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit To Block Montana Forest Project

Dec 10, 2018
The U.S. Forest Service will be able to continue with its tree-thinning project in the Elkhorn Mountains.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0) / MTPR

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block a tree-thinning project in the Elkhorn Mountains near Helena.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen on Monday rejected arguments by Native Ecosystems Council and Montana Ecosystem Defense Council that the project conflicts with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest plan and needs deeper environmental analysis.

Groups File Lawsuit To Stop Eastern Idaho Gold Exploration

Nov 15, 2018
Centennial Mountains WSA
Bob Wick/ BLM California

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The federal government violated environmental laws by approving a Canadian company's plan to search for gold in key wildlife habitat in eastern Idaho, two conservation groups say in a federal lawsuit.

The Idaho Conservation League and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in the lawsuit filed Tuesday say the U.S. Forest Service needs to halt British Columbia-based Otis Gold Corporation's five-year mining exploration project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Pyramid Mountain Lumber Company in Seeley Lake, Montana
Nick Mott

Amidst the golden, glowing larches bordering Seeley Lake, freshly cut one-by-fours stream down a sort of disassembly line. This is Pyramid Mountain Lumber Company, and it’s one of increasingly few places in Montana where cut trees are turned into timber.

In Missoula Friday, Montana’s Republican U.S. Senator, Steve Daines, said Senate leadership has committed to, “Put some kind of a package together of bills, public lands bills and conservation bills that we hope to move during the lame duck session. We’ll be back in session in the U.S. Senate on November 13 and we’ll have between then and the end of the year — which will be really the end of this Congress — to put something together.”

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