Federal cutbacks reduce funds for national park trail work
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Changes made at the federal level that alter the way money is doled out between the different regions of the Forest Service could have a significant impact at the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The trail maintenance budget is down about $90,000, the first of three budget cuts that are expected to reduce forest trail work funding there by about $300,000 over the next two years. Forest Service spokeswoman Marna Daley says the agency’s regional office in Missoula took some of the cuts, reducing the impact, but work in future years could suffer. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle , some forests in western Montana got more money for restorative work because of wildfires last year.
Bison coming ‘home’ to Montana Indian reservation
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Descendants of a bison herd captured and sent to Canada more than 140 years ago will be relocated to a Montana American Indian reservation next month. Blackfeet Tribe officials are billing the event as a homecoming for a species emblematic of their traditions. The relocation follows a 2014 treaty among 11 tribes in the U.S. and Canada to restore bison to areas of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes says the 89 bison from Elk Island National Park in Alberta will help restore a cultural connection with an animal once relied on by his people for food, clothing and shelter.
Plan to divert Yellowstone River water approved for farmers
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal regulators have approved a plan to divert water from the Yellowstone River to help farmers in eastern Montana. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to allow the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project to use boulders to rebuild a diversion barrier to irrigate about 55,000 farm acres between Glendive and Sidney. According to the Billings Gazette , federal regulators said earlier that a permit might not be issued until fall. That would be too late for Eastern Montana farmers. The diversion is often destroyed by ice flows on the Yellowstone River, keeping water from flowing into the irrigation system.
Montana parents call for school intervention for bullying
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Parents in eastern Montana are asking schools to intervene in cases of bullying following three recent suicides of several students. The Billings Gazette reports that a group of concerned parents and community members have requested the Laurel school district to change the way it addresses bullying after a recent student’s suicide. Laurel School District Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Lebrun says a committee will review the district’s current policy and compare it to those already in place at other schools. Montana law requires every school district to adopt an anti-bullying policy, but doesn’t have any punishment requirements, investigation or reporting procedures.
Restoration project under way on Upper Snake River watershed
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A restoration project that hopes to improve spawning habitat to help native cutthroat trout is under way for the Upper Snake River watershed to protect the prime fishing area. The goal is to remove fish barriers and restore stream flows. The project is being paid for by money raised by Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited and funds from the nationwide organization. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the group and other partners demolished a diversion dam that spanned Spread Creek in 2010 and two years later they worked to remove the damaged Newbold Dam from the Gros Ventre River near Kelly.
In Big Sky State, Montana officials market big opportunities
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — When North Carolina’s governor signed a measure blocking its largest city from enacting an anti-discrimination law, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock tweeted a message from across the Plains. The governor said Montana is open for business. He invited any company riled by North Carolina’s new anti-gay policy to “choose Montana.” The tweet not only affirmed the Democratic governor’s support of gay and lesbian rights, but it also underscored his administration’s efforts to pique interest in Montana’s business environment. Bullock’s tweet has been shared more than a thousand times across the Internet. His staff said the governor’s tweet was a cheeky way to draw attention to the state’s business climate and his administration’s efforts to lure job-producing entrepreneurs to Montana.