MTPR

wildfire

"Good Neighbor Authority" allows states and tribes to help the Forest Service with projects on national forest land. The Taylor Hellroaring project near Whitefish is one such project.
U.S. Forest Service

Public comment ends this week on a Forest Service project near Whitefish which proposes to use so-called “good neighbor authority” to collaborate with the State of Montana. It’s a new approach that could mark a shift in which parties get a say in managing national forests.

Wildland Firefighters working on fire line on the West Fork Fish Creek Fire in 2015.
Inciweb

Here’s a riddle: When is a wildland firefighter not technically a firefighter? Answer: When he or she works for the federal government.

That’s because the feds designate them as "forestry technicians." That irks many firefighters who put it all on the line as a changing climate means wildfire seasons are now longer and fires burn bigger and hotter.

A screen capture from a NorthWestern Energy video shows a powerline corridor that must be cleared of hazard trees to help prevent wildfires.
Screen capture from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kH464TvlSo

On Wednesday, investigators concluded that electric power lines caused the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. The Camp Fire burned more than 150,000 acres and killed 85 people. The electric utility that owns the power lines has filed for bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits related to the fire.

What is Montana’s biggest utility doing to mitigate fire risk? Montana Public Radio’s Eric Whitney talks to NorthWestern Energy Spokesperson Jo Dee Black about that.

Canada lynx.
(PD)

The timber industry, land managers and environmentalists are at loggerheads in lynx country. Canada lynx have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act since 2000, they’re at the heart of legal battles over forest management; and in 2017, Montana politicians blamed a lawsuit over lynx protection for the 18,000-acre Park Creek Fire outside Lincoln, along with other blazes across the state.

A 300 acre-wildfire is burning on the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge just north of Stevensville. 

Mike Granger is fire management officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana. He says the fire is the result of a slash pile burn that got out of control Friday afternoon.

Huckleberries in Glacier Park.
Glacier National Park (PD)


A new study mapping huckleberries in Glacier National Park could help grizzlies thrive in the area, and figure out how the tasty fruits respond to a changing climate.

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

Scientists at the University of Montana have found that climate change is already reducing the ability of some forests in the western U.S. to bounce back after wildfire. Their findings are confirming a long-suspected change.

For the past three years, UM post-doc Kimberly Davis has looked at how ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests regenerate after fire, and she’s made an eye-opening discovery.

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.

Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) - Hamilton, at the Legislature. Feb. 22, 2019.
Shaylee Ragar / UM Legislative News Service

Rep. Nancy Ballance, a Republican from Hamilton, has served as a chair of the House Appropriations Committee in Montana’s Legislature since 2015. The committee is tasked with building a balanced budget for the state, which is the only legal requirement of the lawmaking body. Ballance is a former insurance executive, and has dug deep into Montana’s finances.

UM Legislative News Reporter Shaylee Ragar spoke with Ballance last week about the state’s revenue projections, the future of Montana’s economy and about her views of Medicaid expansion, which again is a major debate this session.

A plane flies over the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, MT, August 8, 2017.
Inciweb

Since before the smoke from the Rice Ridge Fire cleared in 2017, a team of University of Montana researchers have been tracking lung health of local residents.

They presented their early findings to the Seeley Lake Community Council for the first time Monday night.

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