Lewis and Clark County helps buy land for forest access
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Lewis and Clark County is using its own open lands bonds to help the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation buy land for Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The county attorney says it’s legal and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hopes to complete the purchase by August.
According to the Helena Independent Record , the land is owned by Stimson Lumber Co. and located south of Flesher Pass.
Supporters say acquiring the land would improve access to about 4,400 acres of national forest lands. The property is also near the Canyon Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Montana lawmaker proposes renaming Columbus Day
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Montana lawmaker is proposing that the Legislature rename Columbus day with a name that celebrates Native Americans.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that State Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, submitted a bill request last week that would change the holiday to celebrate indigenous people instead of the explorer.
Smith says Columbus has a legacy of cruelty and slavery and that he and his exploratory crew committed atrocities on Native Americans.
Montana would not be the first state to enact legislation changing the holiday. In 1989, South Dakota established the second Monday in October, federally recognized as Columbus Day, as Native American Day. Earlier this year, the Bozeman City Commission adopted a similar measure.
State fund to help victims of investment fraud
POLSON, Mont. (AP) — Some of the people who were defrauded by a Polson businessman will get part of their money back because of a Montana law that helps victims of investment fraud.
The program was set up to help victims recover a portion of the money they lost when full restitution is not possible.
Authorities say at least half a dozen individuals and married couples were defrauded by John Cross, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
According to the Missoulian , the state has set aside about $186,000 in restitution. The money in the fund comes from fees paid by companies that register with the state to deal with investors.
Cross was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to repay $1.5 million.
Gay leaders turn to old nemesis, the police, for safety
In 1969, a brutal police raid at the Stonewall Inn bar in New York sparked violent riots by gay patrons.
Now, nearly 50 years later, police officers armed with assault rifles stand guard outside the historic bar, protecting patrons after the massacre at the gay nightclub in Orlando.
The irony isn’t lost on the gay community that used to see police as the oppressor and counts the 1969 Stonewall Inn raid as the start of the gay rights movement.
Eighty-year-old New York resident Gil Horowitz took part in the raids. He says of the change in attitude by the police: “Once upon a time they hit us with nightsticks, and now they’re our protectors.”
At gay pride parades this weekend, that evolution will be on display in cities like Denver, where police will march in solidarity and will have a robust presence among the crowd of 300,000 plus people.
Jason Marsden with the Matthew Shepard Foundation says, “That’s a snapshot of 40 years of progress.”
Deadline looms for fall ballot measures
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana voters this fall could be deciding the fate of two competing marijuana initiatives if elections officials confirm supporters have gathered enough signatures to qualify the issues the November ballot. Friday is the deadline to submit those signatures.
An initiative meant to expand the rights of crime victims and their families is thus far the only initiative to have been certified for the general election. But backers of the competing marijuana measures say they have collected the minimum number of signatures needed.
Initiative 176 would repeal any state laws allowing marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes, conforming state law to federal law. The other measure, I-182, would expand legal access to the drug.
Signatures were also being gathered for two other marijuana initiatives, as well as four other measures.
Deal reached in Montana methane emissions case
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. government has reached an agreement to end a dispute over greenhouse gas emissions from federal oil and gas leases in Montana with only modest changes to current practices.
The deal was filed in federal court Friday by attorneys for the Bureau of Land Management and three environmental groups that had sued to block drilling.
The groups wanted the government to force companies to reduce emissions of methane from oil and gas fields. Under Friday’s agreement federal officials must consider such steps but are not compelled to adopt them.
Separately, the Obama administration in March proposed new regulations to reduce methane pollution nationwide. Attorney Erik Schlenker-Goodrich with the Western Environmental Law Center says that proposal offered a better way to address the issue than continuing with the lawsuit.