BNSF races to upgrade Montana system to deal with increased rail shipments
The unanticipated increase in shipments of oil by rail have strained Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's system across Montana to beyond capacity, where trainloads of grain, oil and other freight have to wait their turn on the two lines the railroad runs through the Big Sky State.
Prairie Star (Billings Gazette); Sept. 28
Hearing today on Wyoming's new rule on wolf management
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, whose decision last week put wolves in Wyoming back under federal protection, will hold a hearing today on Wyoming's new administrative rule put in place last week to cure the deficit addressed in Jackson's ruling, which the state says should allow the wolf hunt scheduled to start Oct. 2 to go forward.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 28
Thousands of onlookers lined up along Higgins Avenue and University Avenue to watch the annual Homecoming Parade on Sept. 27. Here are a few of our favorite images from the morning.
Slideshow: UM Homecoming Parade
Photos from the 2014 University of Montana Homecoming Parade in Missoula.
Genetically modified wheat found again — this time in Montana
For the second time in less than two years, genetically modified wheat, which has not been approved in the United States, has been found growing there, with the latest discovery at a university research center in Montana, where Monsanto legally planted a test plot 11 years ago.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Sept. 29
Yellowstone Park superintendent discusses new business model
Dan Wenk, the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, spoke last week at a conference hosted by Bozeman-based Property and Environment Research Center about the need for the park to be more financially self-sustaining, and Wenk said he'll come out with a new fee schedule for the park by next year, which could have considerable implications in the states in which the iconic park lies.
Idaho Statesman; Sept. 26
Underground gold mine in Montana clears another regulatory hurdle
The Butte Highlands Joint Venture gold mine project proposed in Montana south of that city cleared the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest's environmental assessment process, with that forest expected to issue a decision on the haul road needed for the underground mine in November.
Montana Standard; Sept. 26
Montana anglers, hunters to rally Saturday in Helena for public lands
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Montana Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society and local fishing and hunting organizations plan a rally on Saturday in Helena to show support for federal public lands and to oppose states' efforts to transfer those lands to state control.
Great Falls Tribune; Sept. 26
Since its inception 15 years ago, the Montana Festival of the Book has featured headliners like Richard Ford, James Lee Burke, Ivan Doig and Pam Houston, David Simon of HBO’s hit series “The Wire” and Sherman Alexie. On the surface, this year’s event doesn’t seem much different than past years with Rick Bass, David James Duncan, Pete Fromm, Tami Haaland, Walter Kirn, William Kittredge and Annick Smith joining up-and-coming Missoula author Malcolm Brooks.
But there is one major difference about this year’s Festival of the Book: It could be the last.
Humanities of Montana, the organization that has always hosted and funded the Montana Festival of the Book, has decided not to continue with the event. The decision comes in the wake of funding challenges.
“Key funders have withdrawn support for a variety of reasons,” says Ken Egan, Humanities of Montana’s executive director. “That dip in support has caused us to reflect about how best to focus our resources.”
The loss of the festival would be big for the Missoula literary community. The festival has become an anticipated event that offers three days of panels, readings and literary parties, bringing together bookworms and literati from around the region each fall at the Wilma, Holiday Inn Downtown and other local venues. Egan and associate director of programs Kim Anderson are currently approaching partners (they aren’t naming names) and festival book organizers to see if someone is interested in taking on the project for the future.
Egan says the organization, which serves as Montana’s independent nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, spent the last six months planning its own future.
“We surveyed Montanans all over the state and what hit us between the eyes is that we really have to focus on serving the whole state,” Egan says.
The group’s sights are set on expanding a handful of its other key programs, including Hometown Humanities, now in its third year. “We partner with a single community or county in Montana for a full year and we offer a full palette of grants and programming,” Egan says.
Last year, Humanities worked in Dillon on several projects including a community discussion on settling water resources disputes. In Lincoln county this year, they’ll focus on “Standing Together,” a reading series for veterans and their families featuring literature of war and peace. There will be an emphasis, Egan says, on getting more historical presentations, reading programs, cultural speakers and public affairs discussions into communities around the state. In some ways, the new focus is a little more in line with what Egan sees as Humanities of Montana’s calling—though that doesn’t soften the blow for Festival of the Book fans.
Egan says Humanities of Montana plans to help the next festival organizers—whomever they may be—with some seed money.
“We have no concrete vision for where the festival will go,” he admits. “We’ve been hosting, organizing and funding the book festival for 15 years, and it’s been a wonderful adventure and we think it’s a wonderful gift to the community and to the region. It’s become an annual ritual—one that occurs at a gorgeous time of year and makes downtown alive. And we do recognize that. That’s why we’re going to put a lot of energy into seeing it continue under different leadership and management. I’m cautiously optimistic that will happen.”
This year's Montana Festival of the Book runs Thu., Oct. 9 through Sat., Oct. 11. Visit humanitiesmontana.org for full schedule.
U.S., Canadian tribes sign treaty to restore bison populations
Representatives of 11 tribes from the United States and Canada gathered Tuesday on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana to sign an agreement to create an inter-tribe alliance to restore wild bison herds to their native ranges in the Rocky Mountain West and Great Plains.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Sept. 25
Colorado study casts doubt on need to thin forests to reduce wildfire risk
A team of researchers from the University of Colorado, led by fire ecologist Tom Veblen, studied 8,000 tree-ring samples, starting in 1996, and found that wildfires severe enough to kill trees at elevations above 7,400 feet have historically been the dominant type of wildfires, a finding that calls into question a policy of thinning thick stands of trees to reduce wildfire risk.
Denver Post; Sept. 25
Federal court ruling puts wolves in Wyoming back under federal protection
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled that Wyoming's lack of a mandatory number of wolves needed to sustain a viable population of the species made the state's plan inadequate under the federal Endangered Species Act, and put the wolves in that state back under federal protection, effectively putting the hunting season set to begin Oct. 1 on hold.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Sept. 24
Companies propose 'Hoover Dam' of wind power project for Wyoming
On Tuesday, four companies unveiled an $8-billion project to produce wind-generated power in Wyoming, ship it to Utah and store it in salt caverns underground, and release it to California at times it's needed the most.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 24
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