Man killed in rollover crash on I-90 near Anaconda ID’d
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a 40-year-old Butte man who was killed in a rollover crash on Interstate 90 east of Anaconda.
The Montana Standard reports Ivan Thomas Martin’s SUV rolled twice and crashed into a ditch after it drifted off of the interstate early Tuesday. He died at the scene.
Investigators with the Montana Highway Patrol say the road was dry, and they suspect drugs played a role in the crash.
The Latest: US cancels energy leases in sacred area
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials say they’ve cancelled 15 oil and gas leases in an area bordering Glacier National Park that’s considered sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the move to be announced Wednesday would preserve northwest Montana’s 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine area.
Details were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.
The Badger-Two Medicine is the site of the creation story for members of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of Canada.
The leases were issued in the 1980s and held by Oklahoma-based Devon Energy. No drilling has occurred.
The cancellation comes amid sometimes-violent protests over an oil pipeline being built near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The Obama administration has been criticized by some American Indians for its handling of that dispute.
This story has been corrected to locate reservation in North Dakota.
Forest Service asked to close Smith River area to mining
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Trout Unlimited is asking the U.S. Forest Service to close public lands in the Smith River drainage to mineral exploration.
The conservation group filed the request with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest in October. It argues that any mining could harm a popular trout fishery, recreational opportunities and big game habitat.
David Brooks with Montana Trout Unlimited said Wednesday that organization made the request because of Tintina Resources Inc.’s Black Butte Copper Project.
Brooks said Tintina has 525 lode claims on 10,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in the Smith River drainage.
Forest spokeswoman Kathy Bushnell says the request has yet to be reviewed by the forest’s minerals program.
Tintina spokeswoman Nancy Schlepp calls the group’s request a publicity stunt and says Tintina does not currently plan any exploration on the claims.
Elouise Cobell to receive posthumous Medal of Freedom
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Blackfeet woman who led a 15-year legal fight against the federal government over mismanagement of Indian trust funds will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced 21 recipients who will be honored at the White House next Tuesday, including the late Elouise Cobell.
In addition to the lawsuit that ended with a $3.4 billion settlement, Cobell was a rancher who helped found Native American Bank. She died in October 2011 due to complications from cancer. She was 65.
Turk Cobell issued a statement Wednesday saying he was grateful to President Obama for honoring his mother and noted she would consider the medal an award for all Native Americans.
Crow tribal historian Joseph Medicine Crow received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2009.
Forecasts predict strengthening Montana economy, revenues
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — New forecasts are predicting a strengthening Montana economy and a modest revenue boost over the next two years.
The separate revenue estimates were released this week by Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget office and the Legislative Fiscal Division.
The rosy outlook follows recent declines in oil, natural gas and coal tax collections. Income and corporate tax revenue were also below expectations.
The forecasts show the state’s general fund growing as wages increase, oil prices rebound and interest rates rise.
Gov. Steve Bullock’s estimate predicts general fund revenue will rise from $2.1 billion last summer to $2.45 billion in 2019, about the same as the Legislature’s outlook.
The governor’s report says the state isn’t predicted to enter a boom period, but the economic conditions will be better than the last couple of years.
Man gets 8 years for DUI death of woman in crosswalk
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 53-year-old Lame Deer man with a history of assault and drunken driving convictions has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for striking and killing a pedestrian in Lame Deer in August 2015.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters on Tuesday gave Joseph Curtis Morrison Jr. the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter in the death of 49-year-old Daisy Ann Rowland.
The Billings Gazette reports (bit.ly/2f0sYLy) Assistant U.S. Attorney John Sullivan said Morrison treated Rowland “like roadkill” by dragging her and driving off.
Defense attorney Robert Kelleher Jr. recommended a four- to five-year sentence, saying Morrison felt remorse and suffers from a traumatic brain injury that makes him more vulnerable to alcoholism.
Prosecutors said Morrison has seven DUI convictions between state and tribal courts and four assault convictions.