Bridger-Teton oil and gas drilling plan gains support
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Conservation groups are praising a recommendation from Bridger-Teton National Forest managers to prevent oil and gas drilling on tens of thousands of acres of the Wyoming Range.
The area involves about 40,000 acres west of Marbleton on the east slope of the mountains.
Trout Unlimited says that option would protect native cutthroat trout and the environment.
According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide , energy production already takes place on another 40,000 acres of the 3.4 million-acre forest.
Montana attorney generals says crime victims need more help
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says the state needs to do more to fight violent crime.
Fox says crime statistics show there are five aggravated assaults a day, a rape every 23 hours and a homicide every 14 days in Montana.
According to the Missoulian , the state also needs to do more to help crime victims.
Victims say authorities often dismiss their reports of crimes and not enough is being done to ensure violent suspects are prosecuted.
Montana governor’s race poses test for Dems in rural America
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Fewer Democrats are occupying governors’ mansions. That makes the Montana governor’s race especially crucial for national Democrats, as they work to re-elect Gov. Steve Bullock and hold a key governorship in rural America.
By some accounts, the Democratic Party cannot afford to lose the governor’s race in Montana — not just to defend its dwindling number of governorships but to also prove that it can still engage with rural America.
Bullock is a rarity in the landscape of American politics: He is one of only three Democratic governors in a rural state.
There are only 18 Democratic governors, with eight of those seats up for election this year.
Political watchers say Democrats are likely to hold Montana — but much of that is because Republican Greg Gianforte is an unknown.
State could add digital billboards to outdoor ad rules
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Transportation officials will decide whether to add digital billboard restrictions to outdoor advertising rules.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports amended rules would allow digital billboards along highways while setting standards for message duration, transition and lighting.
Over 300 public comments that were submitted by the April 1 deadline will be reviewed by the Montana Transportation Commission before summer.
One Baton-Rouge based company already owns six digital billboards in Montana.
Derf Johnson of the Montana Environmental Information Center says there is concern digital billboards will distract drivers and impact quality of life.
Montana Department of Transportation Director Mike Tooley said in an email that Outdoor Advertising Control rules were set in 1972 and are amended as needed.
He said studies on digital billboards distracting drivers have had differing conclusions.
Montana sees record number of children in foster care
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A record number of children in Montana are under state care as a result of drugs.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that there are now about 3,126 children in foster care within the Children and Family Services Division, making it the highest number since the state began tracking this statistic 16 years ago. This year’s figure is more than a 12 percent increase from the number of children in 2015.
CFS officials say the rise in the number of children in state custody reflects an increase in drug-related cases. In 2010 there were 230 children in care related to methamphetamine use by parents. The latest figures show almost 1,050 children are in care due to meth use by their parents and almost 250 are in care because of prescription drug abuse.
Mine waste negotiations get public participation
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is allowing the public to attend discussions on cleanup liability in Butte, the first time the public is being allowed since secret consent decree talks started nearly 10 years ago.
Citizens Technical Environmental Committee, an independent volunteer group funded by EPA, will join Atlantic Richfield Co., the Butte-Silver Bow and BNSF Railroad and regulatory agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality.
The negotiations are being held to decide the next best steps to clean up Butte Hill and upper Silver Bow Creek, which have been polluted by mine waste.
According to the Montana Standard , the closed-door meetings were ordered by a judge.