Thursday, March 23, 2017

Montana news roundup, March 23

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 4:43 PM

What others are writing about Montana this week, as collected by Mountain West News:

Montana lawmakers pass anti-Sharia law bill

Montana is one of 13 states, including Idaho, considering legislation this year that would prohibit the use of foreign law in state courts. Nine states already have similar laws, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. (3/22/17, Buzzfeed)

Fewer migrating geese land at Freezeout Lake
Freezeout Lake, Montana’s primary snow goose staging area where as many as 300,000 snow geese and 10,000 tundra swans gather and rest before flying onward, appears to be hosting fewer birds this year, perhaps because of warmer weather. (3/21/17, Great Falls Tribune)

Bull trout are bouncing back in Glacier backcountry
In 2009, USGS biologists in partnership with Glacier National Park pioneered a new effort to suppress lake trout in remote backcountry lakes and reintroduce dwindling native trout populations. According to a recent study, published in Fisheries Management and Ecology, results show strong evidence of success, and indicate that the efforts could be applied to other invaded habitats and broader ranges. (3/21/17, Flathead Beacon)

For tribes, GOP health bill ‘stops the momentum’
The Affordable Care Act contains several health insurance reforms specific to Native Americans. In Montana and across the country, tribes are reporting significant improvements as a result of the reforms. Now, state and tribal leaders fear much of that progress could be lost if the House GOP proposal to replace Obamacare passes as currently written. (3/22/17, Missoulian)

The Colstrip quandary spawns 12 bills in Montana
The 2,094-megawatt coal-fired Colstrip plant in eastern Montana, with two of its four units shutting down by 2022, has lawmakers wrangling with whether, and how, to save a rural company town. (3/21/17, ClimateWire)

Mining bill ‘about learning the lessons from our past’
So says state Rep. Nate McConnell, a Democrat from Missoula, who has introduced a bill that would increase the amount of bonding required for certain mines that have a higher likelihood of producing acid mine drainage. It’s primarily intended to protect the Smith River from the proposed Black Butte copper mine near Sheep Creek, a tributary of the Smith, in central Montana, a river Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has described as “one of the best places to float, fish, and camp, and one of the last places you can escape civilization and truly experience Montana as our ancestors did.” (3/20/17, Great Falls Tribune)

Democrats’ ‘center of gravity’ may be moving West
Politico reports from Helena, where New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s appearance at a Montana Democratic Party dinner on Saturday night “is a signal that potential 2020 [presidential] contenders are recognizing the subtle shift away from more traditional party power centers on the East Coast.” (3/19/17, Politico)

Money pours in to sway Tester’s vote on Gorsuch
A $900,000 TV ad “carpet bombing” attempted to get Montana Sen. Jon Tester to confirm Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. (3/19/17, Billings Gazette)


Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org.

Thursday's avalanche advisory: Moderate danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 9:49 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger is LOW for the west central Montana backcountry and will rise to MODERATE this afternoon. Human triggered avalanches are still possible in isolated terrain this morning and human triggered avalanches are possible this afternoon.
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Good morning, this is Travis Craft with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 23, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos and video, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say heading into the weekend:

A ridge of high pressure will dominate the region today through much of Friday. By Friday afternoon another weather disturbance will move through the region impacting the region with precipitation through Saturday morning. A couple of inches of snow are expected with snow levels lowering to 4000-4500 feet. Some higher elevations may receive up to 6 inches of snow. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Decemberists to headline two-day music festival at Big Sky Brewing Co. Amphitheater in August

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 12:15 PM

The Decemberists
  • The Decemberists

Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater just announced the inaugural Travelers' Rest, a two-day festival scheduled for Sat., Aug. 12, and Sun., Aug. 13, featuring the Decemberists, plus Belle and Sebastian, The Head and the Heart, Sylvan Esso, Shakey Graves, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Real Estate and Julien Baker. Big Sky Brewing says more artists will be announced later in the spring.

Decemberists' frontman Colin Meloy is spearheading the festival. He grew up in Helena, went to school at the University of Montana, and spent part of his college years playing music in a band called Tarkio that frequented the legendary Missoula venue Jay's Upstairs.

“Growing up, it drove me crazy how many national touring bands skipped Montana altogether," Meloy says in the Big Sky press release. "I'm glad we can do our small part to bring more music to the area."

The Decemberists plan to headline both nights, playing two distinct sets. The band is donating $1 from every ticket sold to ACLU Montana.

Weekend passes go on sale this Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m. at bigskybrewconcerts.com for $79.50. A VIP weekend pass option is also available for $149.50. Visit travelersrestfest.com for more info.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Photos from Monday night's Old 97's show at the Top Hat

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 4:07 PM

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A tribute to cantankerous, flawed, rock and roll genius Chuck Berry

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 11:11 AM

Chuck Berry
  • Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry didn’t invent rock and roll any more than any one person invented the electric guitar. He was simply the perfect conduit through which it flowed, and that current shot through me at an early age. It’s almost as if rock and roll was waiting for him to show up. He was young (although not as young as he claimed), a good-looking showman who played guitar and sang his own songs. The crushing poverty and racism he’d suffered in the South had him eager to duck-walk his way out of there. He synthesized blues riffs, country rhythms and guitar licks copped from guitarists like Muddy Waters, Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker into a new style, an unrelenting rhythmic framework to carry his evocative lyrics about cars, girls, school and work. He took over pianist Johnnie Johnson’s band in St. Louis and spent the next 60 years thrilling crowds and bending people to his will through intimidation, arm-twisting, capricious decisions and erratic behavior. But the man’s early music was powerful enough to help us overlook his sometimes abhorrent behavior later in life.

Chuck died Saturday at age 90, and social media buzzed with tributes and memories of his concerts. Celebrities like Bruce Springsteen, who’d once played in one of Chuck’s backup bands, paid his respects. I filled the house with his music and drank a toast to the true king. But Monday morning, there wasn’t a peep on the morning TV news shows about his death. Last year, when we lost Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Glenn Frey, the media paid proper attention. Without Chuck Berry, those artists might not have had careers at all.

The very term rock and roll is synonymous with Chuck Berry, but for all the influence he had, and all the adoration he received from fellow musicians and the screaming throngs at his concerts, the man never really received his due. The greatest indignity suffered by Chuck Berry was not the lawsuit filed in 2000 by Johnson, who helped him write many of his seminal hits and later demanded a big chunk of Chuck’s fortune (the suit was dismissed). It wasn’t even the robber’s roost of promoters, managers and record company execs who ripped him off early on, causing an obsession with money for the rest of his career. No, the biggest slap in the face to the man who is widely regarded as the father of rock and roll is the fact that his only No. 1 record came in 1972, a salacious piece of novelty schlock titled “My Ding-A-Ling.” It wasn't even his song. He’d copped it from a kids’ song and replaced the lyrics with double entendre jokes about his pecker. With all the brilliant hits he’d released, from “You Never Can Tell” to “Rock and Roll Music,” this was the only one that topped the charts. That had to stick in his craw.

But that’s a typical twist from a decidedly non-typical American life. If you know his story, you know he beat some damn long odds to fight his way to the top of the heap. His infamous touring method is widely known. He wrote very specific contracts and held promoters and club owners to every single detail, or else he’d refuse to play. If they failed to supply a pair of Fender Dual Showman amps, for instance, no dice. He didn’t travel with his own band, always playing with a local backing group. These musicians would ask the man which songs he planned on playing, and he’d turn to them and say, “Chuck Berry songs!” He flew alone with his guitar, rented a Cadillac to drive to gigs, and always got paid in cash before the first downbeat.

I got to see him in Seattle in the late 1980s, on a double bill with Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee opened, and was a huge disappointment. He looked old, seemed cranky like he’d missed his afternoon nap, and showed none of the fire of The Killer who used to kick over benches and set pianos ablaze. Then Chuck took the stage and announced his presence with authority. He delivered his standard show (45 minutes, including exactly one duck walk) and the place went nuts. At one point he even invited requests. We all sang his songs back to him, and the thrill was almost unbearable. A few days after the concert I bought my first real electric guitar, a cherry red Lyle copy of the Gibson ES-335 Chuck has played for most of his career. I’ve been a hollow-body man ever since.

It wasn’t just his double-stop guitar style that grabbed me. His lyricism is a form of poetry I’ve always aspired to. His eye for detail and economy of language become razor sharp observations that paint a vivid picture. In “Nadine,” for example, the girl he’s chasing doesn’t just get in her car—he sees her “walking toward a coffee-colored Cadillac.” His wordplay, fondness for alliteration and sometimes outrageous rhymes infiltrated my own style early on. The way he tended to place one syllable per beat is a technique that drives the way I write to this day.

He was revered by the Beatles, adored by the Stones, and respected by most of the great rockers who’ve come up since the early 1960s. If you’re an electric guitar player of any stripe, you owe some debt of gratitude to this cantankerous, unpredictable genius. The fraternity of rock’s original architects is shrinking, with only Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard still kicking. But Chuck was the king of them all. With his death, a door closes on an era, the first epoch of rock and roll. Bye bye, Johnny. Johnny B. Goode.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday's avalanche advisory: Moderate danger

Posted By on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 7:24 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger in the West Central Montana Backcountry is MODERATE. Human triggered avalanches are possible in specific terrain. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.
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Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 18, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, plus photos and video, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center's website.

Here's a look at what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast says about the rest of the weekend:

A warm and wet weather system will continue into tonight with rain totals of 1 to 2 inches common in north central Idaho and northwest Montana. West central Montana will see lesser amounts. A cold front late this afternoon into the evening hours will bring gusty winds, a few thunderstorms, and quickly drop snow levels. Cool and drier weather is anticipated for Sunday.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday's avalanche advisory: Considerable danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 8:58 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The current avalanche danger in the West Central Montana Backcountry is CONSIDERABLE. Human triggered avalanches are likely in specific terrain. Careful evaluation of the snowpack and cautious-route finding are essential to recreate in the backcountry today.
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Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 16, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos, visit the West Central Montana Avalanche Center's website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say as we head into the weekend:
The cold front will be through the region this morning and lower snow levels, gusty winds, and decreasing precipitation chances will be left in its wake. The best chances for any appreciable snow accumulations will be in the Beaverhead/Deerlodge and mainly this morning. A brief drier period remains forecast for tonight and Friday. Friday and Saturday will see warming temperatures and precipitation arrives Friday night with quickly rising snow levels.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Montana news roundup, March 15

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 3:00 PM

What others are writing about Montana this week, as collected by Mountain West News:

Montana senators look to undermine lynx decision
Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines are among co-sponsors of legislation that would reverse a court ruling, known as the Cottonwood decision, that forced the Forest Service to do a top-level review of new critical habitat for lynx under the Endangered Species Act. (Missoulian, 3/13/17)

Interior Secretary Zinke faces delicate balancing act
Zinke’s stated priorities for Interior have been vague but unsurprising: rebuilding trust with the public, increasing public lands access, and improving outdated infrastructure at national parks. But those priorities are rife with controversy. (High Country News, 3/15/17)

Wyoming, Montana would see big tax credit cuts
Count Wyoming among the states where, under the Republicans’ American Health Care Act, an individual enrollee’s tax credit would decrease by more than $4,000 on average. Montana’s reduction would be more than $3,000. (Business Insider, 3/14/17)

Is now the time for Sen. Tester’s Blackfoot bill?
More than a decade in the making, the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act would expand Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex by 79,000 acres while also accommodating recreational and economic uses such as sustainable logging on adjacent lands. And it designates two recreation management areas: a 2,200-acre winter area open to to snowmobiling and a 3,800-acre summer area open to mountain biking. (High Country News, 3/13/17)

Wolverine study could lead to reintroductions
Wolverines number 250 to 300 in the mountains of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Their elusiveness makes them difficult to study. But now DNA and photographic evidence is being collected across the wolverines’ range in the West, which could lead to new conservation initiatives, one being reintroductions into areas where wolverines have been gone for a century. (Great Falls Tribune, 3/9/17)

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday's avalanche advisory: High danger

Posted By on Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 8:34 AM

From the West Central Montana Avalanche Center: The avalanche warning has expired this morning, and the current avalanche danger in the West Central Montana Backcountry is still HIGH on wind loaded terrain above 7,000 feet. The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on all other terrain. Below 7,000 feet the avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE but will move towards HIGH as the day warms up and the sun starts to affect the snow surface. Conditions are variable and careful evaluation is critical to recreate safely in the backcountry today.
high-extreme-450.png

Good morning, this is Logan King with the West Central Montana Avalanche Center’s avalanche advisory for March 11, 2017. This danger rating does not apply to operating ski areas, expires at midnight tonight and is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service.

For the full advisory, including photos and video, go to the West Central Montana Avalanche Center website.

Here's what the National Weather Service's backcountry forecast has to say about the rest of the weekend:

The large scale pattern over the Western US this weekend into next week is a ridge of high pressure. However, there will be weather systems moving through the pattern, keeping weather active and causing periods of widespread mountain precipitation every couple days. The first system moves through Saturday night into Sunday morning, with snow levels between 4000 to 5500 (rising as one moves south). Several inches of fairly dense snow is expected in the high terrain overnight, turning to more  isolated showers by Sunday afternoon. Relatively warm systems, similar in nature to Saturday night's system, look to move through Monday night, Wednesday night, and Friday night.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Photos from last night's Elton John show at the Adams Center

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 12:48 PM

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