Forest Service wants partnerships to help manage forests
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell says his agency is depending on partnerships with states and private organizations to manage 60 million acres in need of restoration because of staff and budget cuts.
The agency plans to set priorities on where to focus their efforts to prevent disease, wildfires and drought, especially in areas where public and private lands converge.
Tidwell tells the Missoulian there are economic benefits to local communities from national forests and those communities have a stake in the process.
Tidwell says there are 44 million homes near national forests and they’re at risk being destroyed by fast-moving wildfires that can be prevented.
Robot breaks ground for MSU engineering building
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A prototype of a lunar mining robot built by Montana State University engineering and computer science students for a NASA competition helped dedicate a new College of Engineering.
The robot dug up symbolic scoops of sand and dignitaries used ceremonial shovels for the dedication.
The college is being funded by a $50 million gift from MSU alumnus Norm Asbjornson.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle , construction is expected to be completed in 2018.
Goodbye to homework for some elementary schools and classes
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A small but growing number of elementary schools and teachers are doing away with homework to allow kids more time to play sports, spend time with families, read and sleep.
The principal at Orchard School in South Burlington, Vermont, says the kindergarten-through-5th-grade school eliminated homework this year, based on research he’s found that says there’s little to no correlation between homework and achievement for elementary school kids.
But other education experts say that homework is vital and less of it may be the key.
At some elementary schools, like the Orchard School, students’ daily home assignment includes reading, playing, extra-curricular activities, dinner with family and sleeping well.
The president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals says the pushback is coming from parents who say their students are stretched too thin.
Author Sam Western urges new take on Wyoming’s economy
SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) — Author Sam Western urged a gathering of mostly graduates of leadership programs in Sheridan County to begin a new conversation on Wyoming’s economic future.
Western says Wyoming residents and leaders have gotten a pass for years to avoid difficult conversations about the future of Wyoming’s economy. While Wyoming clings to the energy industry — primarily coal — Western says, the rest of the world is working to reduce the amount of carbon-based fuels it uses.
The Sheridan Press reports that Western is teaching a class at Sheridan College that discusses the state’s economy.
Western said he’s not anti-coal and said he believes coal and carbon-based fuels will continue to be a part of the world’s energy portfolio.
Complaint filed over Montana suspension of solar payments
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is being asked to step in after Montana officials suspended payment for solar projects until a rate structure can be determined.
The Montana Environmental Information Center and Vote Solar filed a complaint after the Public Service Commission decided to review standard rates for small solar energy developers in Montana.
Supporters say the commission violated federal regulations that encourage renewable energy production and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
According to the Great Falls Tribune , dozens of solar projects are in limbo because of the decision.
Williston breaks ground on $5M animal shelter
WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A new $5 million animal shelter is planned in Williston.
City officials broke ground on the planned facility last week.
Officials say the exterior of the 18,000-square-foot building is on track to be finished by December. Space for veterinary and grooming services for rescued dogs and cats is expected to be finished in about a year.
Officials say the facility will serve Williams and McKenzie counties, along with eastern Montana.