Montana Public Radio

U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Courtesy Ryan Zinke

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has scheduled a visit next week to Montana, where he's expected to finalize a proposal to block new mining claims on the forested public lands just outside Yellowstone National Park.

Zinke, a former Montana congressman, plans to sign documents and make a "major announcement" about conservation on Monday in the Paradise Valley area, Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said Thursday.

Swift declined to give further details except to say it was an issue Zinke had been working on for years.

Emigrant Peak in Montana's Paradise Valley. The valley is north of Yellowstone Park near the location of two gold mines proposed in 2015.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio


Federal officials are recommending approval of a plan to block new mining claims for 20 years on public lands in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park.

US Approves Sheep Grazing Research In Grizzly Bear Area

Sep 6, 2018
A sheep research flock at U.S. Sheep Experiment Station
USDA (PD)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federally-run sheep experiment station in eastern Idaho long targeted by environmental groups will resume grazing sheep in the Centennial Mountains of Idaho and Montana next year.

The U.S. Sheep Experiment Station will open on 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of sheep station land and 5 square miles (13 square kilometers) of U.S. Forest Service land, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

A helicopter flies near the Shellrock Fire NE of Helena Montana, August 15, 2018.
Inciweb


A new study says that less summer precipitation, and longer summer dry spells, are major drivers of increased wildfire activity in the western U.S. It’s contrary to previous understanding that warming temperatures and earlier snowmelt are the only factors in bigger wildfire seasons.

Hungry Lion planning area and general vicinity.
U.S. Forest Service

The Flathead National Forest said Thursday it will move ahead with a commercial logging and hazardous fuels reduction project just north of Hungry Horse Reservoir.

The U.S. Forest Service and Montana DNRC work to plant more than 13,000 whitebark pine seedlings in the Swan Mountain Range as a cooperative post-burn restoration project on June 18, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

After a wildfire, forest managers know that a forest can and will bounce back on its own. Still, the U.S. Forest Service doles out millions of dollars each year for post-burn restoration and rehabilitation.

The U.S. Forest Service's National Director of Fire and Aviation Shawna Lagarza and retired USFS employee and Management Consultant Richard Stem at Rep. Gianforte's field hearing on wildfire in Hamilton, MT, August 7, 2018.
Edward O'Brien


Congressman Greg Gianforte was in Montana Tuesday talking about wildfire. The Republican was in Hamilton holding a field hearing which started on an unusual note.

Megan Fylling and William Blake try to identify a bird flitting through the trees in a part of the Rice Ridge burn area near Seeley Lake.
Rosie Costain

Salvage logging on a portion of the Rice Ridge Fire burn area near Seeley Lake is set to begin soon. The U.S. Forest Service is finalizing plans to log about 5,600 acres on the 160,000 acres that burned in the biggest wildfire Montana saw last summer.

I recently visited the salvage logging site, about half a mile drive outside Seeley Lake, with Megan Fylling and Willaim Blake. They’re avian biologists, Fylling is with the University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab and Blake at MPG Ranch.

A stack of logs.
(PD)

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of an environmental group challenging a timber and forest thinning project in the Kootenai National Forest.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that that Forest Service, “acted arbitrarily and capriciously,” by failing to determine whether the East Reservoir Project will result in new roads that will exceed a cap on them meant to preserve grizzly bear habitat.

Members Of The Chloeta crew, Nolan Buckingham, Jaime Garcia and Aaron Turner at the Highway 37 fire near Libby, MT.
Nolan Buckingham

Before firefighters entered the Modified Fire Response Zone of the asbestos-contaminated forest near Libby to suppress the Highway 37 Fire, they donned full-face respirators, and recited a poem.

"You ready? When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act like a prism and form a rainbow. The rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors …"

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