When Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species list in late June, at least seven environmental groups filed notices of intent to sue him. But Indian tribes have beaten them to the punch, citing violations of religious freedom.Read More
With grizzly-bear recovery potentially complete in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, agencies are daring to plan for a time when most bears are under state control.
A lot of balls remain in the air as the Interagency Grizzly Bear Executive Committee met to consider its next five-year plan. The committee is juggling the pending delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and the myriad of challenges posed by the six other regions of grizzly recovery in the Northwest.Read More
Worried about losing parts of Montana’s historic and ecological legacy, a grassroots group has sprung up to fight Trump administration attacks on the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
On Monday, Hold Our Ground, a campaign sponsored by the Montana Wilderness Association, was launched in Fort Benton, the gateway to the 146-mile float down the Wild and Scenic Missouri River. Three spokesmen detailed the different reasons they oppose efforts by the Trump administration to rescind or diminish the 378,000-acre Missouri River Breaks monument.Read More
A Helena Republican claims 40 of Montana’s top writers and their supporters violated federal election laws during the recent special election for Montana’s Congressional representative.
Recently, the writers, photographers and dozens of supporters received letters from the Federal Election Commission informing them that Joe Dooling, Chair of the Lewis and Clark County Republican committee, had filed a complaint accusing them of multiple campaign violations. Dooling also ran for but lost a state senate race in a Helena district to Jill Cohenour in 2014.Read More
After almost a year of consideration and comment, a proposal to save some of Montana’s streams from the technological toys of the future has been defeated.
While considering the Quiet Waters Initiative on Friday, the three new members of the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission had their first taste of the contentiousness that can flare up in response to fish and wildlife proposals. Although the commission was originally scheduled to vote on the initiative, Chairman Dan Vermillion proposed to once again extend the public comment period to gather more information and give those new commissioners a chance to better acquaint themselves with the issue prior to voting. So that’s the thing he asked people to comment on.Read More
As more tribes join the bison hunt north of Yellowstone National Park, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is asking them to put hunting restrictions on themselves.
On Wednesday, the wildlife representatives of five tribes met in Missoula with FWP, Department of Livestock, U.S. Forest Service and YNP managers to review this winter’s tribal bison hunt north of Gardiner and west of West Yellowstone. Although it was a fairly successful hunt, a few parts of it weren’t pretty.Read More
After nonprofit organizations challenged a 2015 finding that logging wouldn’t affect bull trout, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reversed itself, stopping a logging project at the edge of the Mission Mountain Wilderness.
On Friday, Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber announced he was withdrawing his Notice of No Significant Impact involving the Cold Jim Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project in the Swan Lake District. The project was intended to be part of an effort to reduce fuels in the wildland-urban interface. In a May 12 letter, Weber said his September 2016 decision to allow the logging project to move forward was based on USFWS biologists agreeing that bull trout in the area about 3 miles northwest of Condon would not be affected.Read More
After the Legislature rejected two of the governor’s four candidates for the Fish & Wildlife commission, two FWP veterans will fill the roles for at least the next two years.
On Friday, Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Tim Aldrich of Missoula and Shane Colton of Billings to replace Gary Wolf and Matthew Tourtlotte on the FW commission.Read More
Last week’s purchase of the Stillwater Mining Company puts one more Montana mine in foreign hands. Fortunately, a citizen-crafted agreement will keep the new company from being environmentally irresponsible.
On May 4, the Stillwater Mining Company finalized about six months of negotiations and agreed to sell $2.2 billion worth of assets to Sibanye Gold Limited, a South African gold mining company. The buyout helped Stillwater transfer $500 million worth of debt it had accumulated since the 2008 recession.Read More
Montana’s snowpack is the best it’s been in a handful of years, so most streams should flow nicely even through August.
May’s snowpack is what sustains the state’s streams through most of the summer, and this year, it’s above normal and half again what it was last year, according to measurements made by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.Read More
It takes more than buying a bunch of game tags to represent Montana hunters, according to a sportsmen’s coalition.
With a month to go until the special election for Montana’s lone Congressional seat, the Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance has thrown its support behind Democratic candidate Rob Quist. The MSA political action committee says Quist comes closest to supporting the values of Montana’s sportsmen and women.Read More
Montana’s senior senator has taken the lead in the fight against proposed mines in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem by introducing legislation that would withdraw federal mining rights north of Yellowstone National Park.
On Monday, Sen. Jon Tester introduced the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, a short but concise bill withdrawing 30,000 acres of the Emigrant Crevice area from lands that are subject to federal mine leases.Read More
The two new members of the Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission got off to an easy start on Friday with minimal public comment on wolves, lions and grizzly bears. But wolves still sparked discussion.
Commission chair Dan Vermillion praised an FWP proposal to finally include wolves in the regular season-setting agenda that comes before the commission every two years.Read More
Hunting guides and outfitters will have to continue recording details of clients' hunts after the defeat of a bill backed by Montana Outfitters and Guides.
On Monday, the last day before the bill would have become law without his signature, Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed Senate Bill 264. SB 264 would have reduced the information collected by the Montana Board of Outfitters to only that required to justify outfitter licensing. In other words, details regarding clients’ names, trip dates, and animal species, sex and location would be eliminated.Read More
Monday was a tough day for state Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, as he watched Republicans defeat all six of his amendments increasing natural resource funding.
As the state Legislature works toward passing a state budget for the next two years – known as House Bill 2 - Monday was the day for the full Senate to hear all final amendments. Phillips sponsored six of the dozen amendments proposed for Section C of the budget, which funds departments overseeing aspects of natural resources.Read More
9 p.m. UPDATE: HB 651 failed the second reading on the House floor by a vote of 47-53, so the bill is probably dead.
In spite of overwhelming opposition, Republicans have resurrected a bill to create a second public-land access specialist and spend sportsmen’s dollars buying land for access that might be poor habitat.
In a specially scheduled meeting Wednesday, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Kerry White, R-Bozeman, brought House Bill 651 up for an unprecedented third round of executive action. Montana already has a public-land access specialist working in the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to improve public access to all public lands, but HB 651 would create another position under the state land board to increase access to state lands using Habitat Montana funds.Read More
An effort to shunt wildlife habitat funds toward a redundant state-land position died Monday, leaving sportsmen relieved but still a bit frustrated.
In an 8-7 vote, the House Natural Resources Committee failed to pass House Bill 651 and then unanimously tabled it. HB 651 would have created a public-land-access advocate who would report to the state Land Board and who was allotted $100,000 a year out of the Habitat Montana program. The Habitat Montana account was created in 1987 to purchase conservation easements and fee title land that provided good wildlife habitat and thus hunting opportunity.Read More
A group of outfitters is trying to wrest a few more game permits from the hands of Montana hunters.
On Tuesday, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association defended its bill, House Bill 568, to ensure that nonresident hunters always get 10 percent of the permits to hunt deer, elk, antelope, mountain lions and eventually black bears. Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, carried HB568, saying it would bring in additional money for Fish, Wildlife & Parks, because nonresident licenses cost more than those of residents. But White’s justification belies the fact that it takes permits away from residents.Read More
State Republicans are trying once again to send a message to Washington, D.C., to encourage the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. But opponents are ever more concerned about resulting contributions to climate change and environmental degradation.
On Monday, the House Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee heard yet another round of testimony on Senate Joint Resolution 10 sponsored by Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta. Many of the same proponents and opponents already testified for the Senate committee before the bill passed on a party-line 8-5 vote and passed the Senate 39-11.Read More
Trouble is brewing in the outfitter world as the Montana Board of Outfitters awaits a replacement for long-time board member Robin Cunningham.
When it met Thursday, the seven-member Board of Outfitters was down to six after the Montana Senate refused on Feb. 24 to confirm Cunningham on a 32-18 party line vote. Cunningham was a year into his final three-year term as the fishing outfitters' lone representative. But he’d sat on the board since 2012 and served an earlier stint from 1994 to 2000.Read More