MTPR

wildlands

It’s been about a year since lightning started a fire that burned almost 4,500 acres in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park. Local fire managers and ecologists invited journalists to see how the burn site is recovering and learn how fire plays a role on the landscape.


For the first time in thirty years, the U.S. Forest Service is updating its management plan for the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. It’ll determine where you can mountain bike, build new trails and harvest timber, among other things.

A state judge has revoked the water permit for a silver and copper mine proposed beneath a northwestern Montana wilderness area.

Judge Kathy Seeley said in a recent order that state officials did not adequately consider potential damage to nearby streams from Hecla Mining Company’s Rock Creek Mine.

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

North Shore Wildlife Management Area.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is accepting public comment on a proposed management plan for wildlife habitat along the north shore of Flathead Lake south of Kalispell.

This would be the first management plan for the agency’s 400 acre North Shore Wildlife Management Area, which serves as a migratory stopover point for some 200 bird species. The agency acquired the land in three phases between 2008 and 2016.

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

A team of researchers at the University of Montana has received a $700,000 grant from NASA to promote reforestation efforts across the western United States.

The grant will allow UM’s researchers to develop a set of tools to help the U.S. Forest Service improve its decision-making process following major disturbances like wildfires.

Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Kathleen Williams debated on Montana PBS Saturday, October 6
Montana PBS

Two of Montana’s congressional candidates squared off Saturday night for their final debate before November’s election.

Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte and Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams’ debate took place on a closed MontanaPBS set in Bozeman.

The Libby eagle sits above downtown Libby, Montana.
Nicky Ouellet

In about a year, the Environmental Protection Agency will leave Libby, where it’s worked for the last two decades to clean up asbestos contamination, a lethal byproduct leftover from W.R. Grace’s vermiculite mine. But locals in Lincoln County say the EPA packing up doesn’t necessarily mean cleanup work is done.

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.

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

A proposal to ban mining near Yellowstone National Park got its first hearing in the U.S. House today. It has the unconditional support of Montana’s lone representative, Republican Greg Gianforte.

Congressman Gianforte is an ardent supporter of the natural resources extraction industries. Even so, he testified against mining before a House Natural Resources subcommittee Thursday.