MTPR

The Wilderness Society

A recent report from a pair of environmental advocacy groups says a third of the public lands leased for oil and gas development came with a price tag of $2 per acre or less.

Solenex well site is the last remaining oil lease in Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Wilderness advocates and a Texas oil company agreed Tuesday to end an oil and gas lease on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Nation. The settlement permanently removes all but one of the development leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.

About 200 people attended the festival's business panel at the Wilma Theater in Missoula
Eric Whitney

Groups promoting the economic value of public lands in Montana held their third annual Last Best Outdoors Fest event to get their message out in Missoula yesterday.

The event brought bands, beer and information booths to Caras Park downtown, and a panel of business leaders to speak at the Wilma theatre.

"We aren’t just a place you can come visit, but we’re a place that you can come make a living," said Evan Tipton, who was on the panel.

Sage grouse.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (PD)

The federal government’s most recent sage grouse public comment period wrapped up Thursday.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed tweaking conservation plans that were hammered out back in 2015. That’s unnerved some of the people and groups who were involved in that process.

Stewart Brandborg in 2006.
Courtesy The Wilderness Society

One of the architects of the modern wilderness movement died this weekend at his home in western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Friends and colleagues remember the life and legacy of Stewart Brandborg.

Former Interior secretary and Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says removing bureaucratic obstacles to development on federal land can create jobs and offer hope to nearby communities.

Zinke spoke Tuesday at the Western Governors' Association annual meeting in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. He says the Interior Department and other land management agencies need to better cooperate, and hinted of major changes in store.

Live and beetle killed trees in the Helena National Forest.
Steve Jess

State officials say the new kinds of forest management tools the Farm Bill gave them are good for both Montana’s forests and the state’s economy. But some environmentalists say those claims are dubious at best.

A firefighter stands in front of flames from a wildfire.
(PD)

The Forest Service says there has to be a change in how wildfire fighting is paid for. Here's why: The agency's total annual budget amounts to a bit over $5 billion. Now, for the first time in its history, just over half its budget is earmarked exclusively to fight fire.

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

A bill to to expedite forest management activities on federal forests continues to pick up steam in Congress.

The "Resilient Federal Forests Act" passed out of the House Agriculture committee Wednesday.

FH Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls, MT
Eric Whitney

Tuesday in Columbia Falls, Senator Steve Daines kicked off a series of three meetings in western Montana that he’s calling “Forest Management Reform Roundtables.”

Around the table were executives from three timber mills, county commissioners from Sanders, Lincoln and Mineral counties, and Montana leaders of The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy,  and the National Parks Conservation Organization.

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