Glacier NP wildfire evacuations downgraded
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. (AP) — Evacuation levels in Glacier National Park are being downgraded as the weather improves and more firefighters arrive to battle the blaze.
The fire along the west side of St. Mary Lake is now 20 percent contained.
Some 570 firefighters are now on hand to battle the blaze, now estimated at about 5 square miles.
A mandatory evacuation along the west shore of Lower St. Mary Lake has been downgraded to a warning.
Firefighters say they were assisted by a small amount of rain Saturday. More rain is possible Monday.
Much of Going-to-the-Sun Road remains closed. Also, the Rising Sun Motor Inn and Rising Sun campground remain under evacuation orders and are closed.
Search underway for missing Yellowstone worker from China
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — A search is underway in Yellowstone National Park for a seasonal worker from China who went missing Thursday while swimming.
The park says that 21-year-old Feiyang “Isaac” Xiang of the Hubei province was backpacking with four friends. He disappeared while swimming in the Yellowstone River near its confluence with Hellroaring Creek in the park’s northern section.
Xiang was swimming with two companions around 11:45 a.m. when he was pulled away from the shore by the current.
Initial search efforts Thursday afternoon did not turn up any sign of the seasonal concessionaire, who is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 140 pounds.
Search efforts increased on Friday. Approximately 40 people including a helicopter, two dog teams, and 20 Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park employees searched the Yellowstone River corridor.
Montana grandparents organize against Child, Family Services
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Dozens of Montana grandparents have organized to push back against a state agency they say has shut them out as caregivers and sometimes has placed grandchildren with parents they don’t know.
They say they are being prevented from stepping in to provide care when parents lose custody due to neglect or abuse.
A network of 24 grandparents has staged protests, told their stories to lawmakers and enlisted at least one former legislator to lobby state officials on their behalf.
Gov. Steve Bullock plans to meet with the grandparents about their concerns, says his spokesman, Dave Parker.
Montana Child and Family Services’ Sarah Corbally insists that the agency complies with state policy that requires placement with a biological parent unless a caseworker finds good cause to recommend otherwise.
South Dakota regulators to hear Keystone XL arguments again
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — State regulators are considering whether to approve for the second time in just over five years construction through South Dakota of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, but it’s unlikely a decision will come immediately.
The Public Utilities Commission hearing process starts Monday. The state authorized TransCanada Corp.’s project in 2010, but permits must be revisited if construction doesn’t start within four years.
Commission Chairman Chris Nelson says it’s unlikely the panel will come to a decision immediately.
He says TransCanada will present its case first, and then opponents will offer their side. Supporters say the pipeline will create jobs and tax revenues, while opponents argue it could contaminate water supplies.
The pipeline would transport oil from Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines headed to the Gulf Coast.
Wildfire watching: Rangers in towers are out, cameras are in
RENO, Nev. (AP) — For decades, forest rangers in wooden towers across the West scanned the horizon with binoculars for smoke that could signal the start of a wildfire.
Now, scientists in Nevada and California are helping federal land managers develop technology to expand a network of high-definition cameras to do the job, including one in northern Nevada that recently captured a blaze in real-time more than 100 miles away in Oregon.
The latest project led by the Nevada Seismology Laboratory began two years ago at Lake Tahoe in conjunction with the Forest Service and other local agencies. In recent weeks, the Bureau of Land Management has mounted four cameras on remote mountain peaks stretching from central to northeast Nevada about 100 miles from the Utah line.
“With the system we have developed here in Nevada and eastern California, I think we are on the cusp of a new era in the way we fight fires,” said Graham Kent, director of the lab at the University of Nevada, Reno which tied the communication network into the system it uses to monitor seismic activity and climactic conditions.
The goal is to detect fires faster, especially in unpopulated areas where they can burn several hours or even days before anyone reports them. The cameras with pan-tilt-zoom capability provide a 360-panoramic view with infrared night vision and specialized software to track smoke.