Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho's Wood River Valley stalls
The wildfire that forced 2,200 Ketchum and Sun Valley residents from their homes and put thousands of others on high alert calmed a bit on Monday, and some evacuees in Idaho's Wood River Valley were allowed to return home.
Twin Falls Times-News; Aug. 20
Idaho wildfire forces evacuation of Atlanta, closes Sawtooth Rec Area
The Little Queens Fire, which was first reported in Idaho on Saturday, forced the closure Monday of a portion of the Sawtooth Recreation Area and the evacuation of Atlanta, a small community near Stanley.
Twin Falls Times-News; Aug. 20
Wildfire in W. Montana now at 5,000 acres, some homes lost
The West Fork Fire and the Schoolhouse Fire, both burning west of Lolo in Western Montana, are now known as the Lolo Creek Complex, which is estimated to be 5,000 acres in size and fire managers said some homes have been lost to the blaze.
Missoulian; Aug. 20
Montana governor declares emergency in 31 counties
A fast-moving wildfire in western Montana will likely make Missoula County one of the first of the 31 counties in which Gov. Steve Bullock declared an emergency to request help from the Montana National Guard.
Missoulian; Aug. 20
Water emergency declared in Montana town
After the water treatment sucked sludge from a containment pond into the town's water system, Brady residents were told not to use the water, and officials from Montana Rural Water Systems and the state Department of Environmental Quality were seeking the source of contamination.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 17
Curses, Foiled Again
Sheriff’s deputies hunting robbery suspect Matthew Oliver in Pasco County, Fla., posted his wanted picture on their Facebook page, naming him their “Fugitive of the Day.” Oliver replied, posting daylong comments, along with his photo and personal details, including his address. Insisting he was set up by a “crack head,” Oliver elicited such comments as, “Ur runnin from the popo & post on your picture? Lol.” Deputies arrested Oliver leaving his apartment. (Tampa Bay’s WTSP-TV)
Police named West Virginia University football player Korey Harris their armed robbery suspect after the victims recognized Harris, who was wearing WVU-issued football sweatpants with his uniform number, 96. Harris was arrested and dropped from the team. (Charleston’s Metro News)
Owners of Montana ski resorts team up to buy Moonlight Basin
CrossHarbor Capital, the Boston-based investment firm that owns the exclusive Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks resort community, and Boyne Resorts, which owns Big Sky Resort, are in the process of buying Moonlight Basin, with plans to manage the 5,700 combined acres of skiable terrain north of Yellowstone National Park as one resort.
Montana Standard (Bozeman Daily Chronicle); Aug. 16
For three years, researchers from Montana State University spent their summers collecting bear hair. The samples, collected on both sides of the 50 mile stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway that cuts through Banff National Park, prove what the researchers had suspected: wildlife underpasses and bridges were helping enough bears move back and forth across the highway to keep the populations healthy.
The Trans-Canada Highway stretches nearly 5,000 miles acrowss the country, rolling through each of the nation’s 10 provinces and connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The 100 miles that pass through Banff National Park is a blip in the entire stretch of highway, but a potentially deadly obstacle for the wildlife that live in the park. Demand for a bigger, faster road system prompted a widening of the highway in the 1990s. During construction, engineers lined the highway with fencing and built underpasses and bridges for animals to cross, with the theory they would reduce collisions and provide animals safe passage. However, the decision was controversial as there was little data to backup the hunch.
Construction of animal crossings has skyrocketed since they were first implemented in the 1970s, and Rob Ament, director of the Road Ecology Program at Montana State University says that research has shown as much as 80 to 90 percent decrease in vehicle-wildlife collisions in areas with the structures. Yet without proof that wide crossings are crucial to wildlife, planners have been reluctant to keep building them, especially overpasses, which are more costly and time-consuming than underpasses. MSU’s bear hair study proves that not only do animal crossings benefit humans, but also that both underpasses and the more expensive overpasses may be critical to some species' survival.
While deadly run-ins with vehicles is a gruesome end for many animals, the fate of about 1 million vertebrates each day, fragmentation of habitat has brought some species near extinction. Whether unable or unwilling to cross a road, animals living on one side that can’t encounter animals on the other side means isolation of genes, what biologists call the “island effect.”
Montana, tribe reach deal on tribe-to-tribe bison transfer
Under an agreement signed Tuesday between the State of Montana and the Fort Belknap Tribe, 35 genetically pure bison will be transferred to the tribe from the Fort Peck Reservation.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 15
Blackfeet Tribe says leases on sacred mountain in Montana canceled
The Blackfeet Tribal Council released a statement Wednesday that leases for energy development on Chief Mountain had been canceled on July 24, and that the leases were actually on an area of the reservation in Montana at least two miles from the mountain, which the tribe considers sacred.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 14
The food is long gone, devoured by roughly 150 Montana brewers and craft beer fanatics before the Lakeside marina was even out of view. But dozens of growlers of Quill Pig, Wheatfish Lager, Copper John Scotch Ale and more remain. Bomber bottles of Centennial IPA and cans of Bozone Amber are freely passed around the decks of the tour boat.
The only way out of this party, dubbed the Flathead Lake Beer Cruise, is a long swim to shore, but nobody looks like they want to leave.
Tony Herbert, the event’s host and executive director of the Montana Brewers Association, keeps fielding the same question: When are you doing this again? He doesn’t have an answer yet. What he does have is an all-star guest to introduce to the crowd.
Charlie Papazian, founder of the national Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival, is considered the father of home brewing by many in the craft beer industry. And he’s beaming about everything he’s drinking. Asked if any single brew has really blown his socks off, Papazian laughs. “My socks are long gone.”
Papazian remembers exactly which Montana beers were the first to pass his lips: the doppelbock and lorelei lager brewed by Kessler Brewing back in the 1980s. Since then, he’s returned to the state a handful of times to visit friends in the Flathead, keeping a keen eye on beery developments. Montana’s always on his radar, along with Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He’s particularly impressed by the glut of local brews available at nearly every convenience store—a lesson he thinks Montana could teach the rest of the country.
“The spirit of craft brewing just emerges so brightly, and is representative of what small brewers are contributing to communities all over the country,” he says. “It’s a great snapshot of what’s happening.”
The scene around the boat couldn’t be more jovial. Many are talking up the Black IPA from Bozeman’s 406 Brewing. Shawn and Kelley Christensen, who opened Desert Mountain Brewing in Columbia Falls just a few months ago, rub shoulders with seasoned brewers like Bitter Root’s Jason Goeltz. A man leans over the top-deck railing with a growler, pouring glasses for those below.
During a speech on the top deck, Papazian dubs this the “best state association gathering ever.” He’s stunned by how far some brewers have come to continue the “collaboration and cooperation that has really built the craft brewing industry.” In short, Montana’s left an indelible impression on him.
“Some of these beers are gold-medal quality in any competition I’ve judged,” Papazian says. He glances at his empty glass, then at the growlers nearby. “Should we get another beer?”
Montana, N.D. congressmen seek field hearing on sage grouse
The Bureau of Land Management is in the process of updating its management plans in areas of Montana and North Dakota to increase protections for sage grouse, which is teetering on the edge of a designation as a threatened or endangered species, and Montana U.S. Rep. Steve Daines and North Dakota U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer have asked the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee to hold field hearings in those states on the BLM's plan since they'll be most affected by any change in management policy.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 14
Montana FWP closes fishing on Upper Big Hole River
The Upper Big Hole River in Montana is closed to fishing from its headwaters south of Jackson to the mouth of the North Fork Big Hole due to low water.
Billings Gazette; Aug. 14
Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Normally, International CAPS LOCK DAY happens only once a year, on June 28. But in alignment with your current astrological omens, you have been granted the right to observe the next seven days as your own personal International CAPS LOCK DAYS. That means you will probably be forgiven and tolerated if use OVERHEATED ORATORY and leap to THUNDEROUS CONCLUSIONS and engage in MELODRAMATIC GESTURES. You may even be thanked—although it's important to note that the gratitude you receive may only come later, AFTER THE DUST HAS SETTLED.
USFS, NPS to work together on plan to manage Flathead River in Montana
Congress designated the Flathead River in Montana a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976, and since use of the river's three forks has increased substantially since that time, the National Park Service and the Flathead National Forest have begun monitoring the river's use and will work on a management plan.
Flathead Beacon; Aug. 13
Idaho governor declares disaster for areas burned by wildfires
On Monday, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter declared some areas in southern Idaho where wildfires are burning disasters to make it easier for communities to apply for and get resources to fight the wildfires.
Twin Falls Times-News; Aug. 13
Most residents of Idaho town in wildfire's path elect to stay
The Elk Complex fire, which has burned 90,249 acres in Idaho since lightning started it Thursday, is burning near Pine, where so far the flames have stayed out of the town, but in nearby Fall Creek, some structures have been lost but with access difficult, the extent of the damage is not yet known.
Idaho Statesman; Aug. 13
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