More active burning expected in western Montana wildfires
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Firefighters and residents are bracing for a return to more intense fire activity in western Montana where wildfires have scored thousands of acres and threatened some small communities.
A fire weather watch posted Sunday warned that gusty winds and low humidity were expected Monday afternoon in Glacier National Park and the Kootenai and Flathead national forest areas.
On Glacier’s southern boundary, a wildfire is about a mile south of the town of Essex where about 100 area residents have been advised to be ready to evacuate.
Fire spokesman Jonathan Moor says crews are working to keep the fire away from the town but it’s difficult to predict what the fire will do over the next couple of days.
Public hearing to be held on drilling lease near Glacier
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal panel will hold a public hearing on whether to allow oil and gas drilling on land near Glacier National Park considered sacred by Native Americans.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will hold the hearing in Choteau on Sept. 2 to discuss the effects of lifting a suspension on Solenex LLC’s drilling permit in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
The Louisiana company has owned the 6,200-acre lease since 1982. The U.S. government suspended drilling on the lease in 1992 and has been considering the environmental and cultural impacts ever since.
The Blackfeet Indian Tribe and environmental groups are opposed to drilling on what’s considered the Blackfeet’s spiritual homeland.
The council will take public comment after the hearing and submit advisory comments to the U.S. Forest Service by Sept. 21.
State transportation employee killed in roadside accident
(Information in the following story is from: KECI-TV, http://www.keci.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana Department of Transportation employee has died in a work related accident in Missoula County.
This accident was reported around 4 p.m. Thursday near Clearwater Junction on the shoulder of Highway 200.
KECI TV reports that the Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as 45-year-old Jason Rolls, a section supervisor who recently moved to the area from Helena.
Investigators say Rolls and two other state employees were using a piece of equipment to mix sand and salt when it moved unexpectedly.
The Sheriff’s Office has ruled the death an accident.
The accident remains under investigation by state safety officials.
Rare fallen trees led to I-90 tragedy near Lookout Pass
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — An Aug. 10 fatal crash on Interstate 90 in western Montana has raised questions about how safe the four-lane mountain highway is when the wind blows.
University of Montana student Chris Ramsey died after the sport utility pickup he was driving rammed into two large trees that were blown down four miles east of Lookout Pass and the Idaho line.
Ramsey is believed to be the first tree-caused fatality in the 30-plus years since I-90 was completed on Montana’s westernmost edge.
Montana Department of Transportation spokesman Lori Ryan tells the Missoulian that crews monitor trees in medians along the interstate.
The Montana Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident.
Proposed mine exploration draws nearly 6K public comments
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Federal and state agencies have received nearly 6,000 public comments on a Canadian company’s proposal to explore the possibility of building a gold mine near Yellowstone National Park.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the U.S. Forest Service received about 4,100 comments and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality received another 1,700 by Thursday’s deadline.
Lucky Minerals Inc. wants to search for precious metals on federal and private land near Emigrant Peak in the Paradise Valley.
After reviewing the comments, the agencies will decide what level of environmental analysis is necessary for the project.
Conservation groups are urging a stringent analysis of the potential effects on water quality and wildlife habitat, while Lucky Minerals says the exploratory work would have minimal effect on the environment.
2 climbers die in fall in Grand Teton National Park
MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) — Two women died when they fell about 200 feet while trying to climb a mountain Grand Teton National Park.
The National Park Service says the accident occurred around 11 a.m. Saturday on the 12,300-foot Teewinot (tee-WIN’-aht) Mountain, the sixth-tallest peak in the Teton Range.
The agency identified the victims as 27-year-old Tyler Strandberg and 28-year-old Catherine Nix, both of Jackson. Their bodies were recovered from a rocky ledge at an elevation of about 11,500 feet.
A third member of the climbing party, 26-year-old Rebecca Anderson, of Jackson, was rescued unhurt from a small ledge.
The three women were attempting to ascend the East Face of the mountain and were well off the preferred route when the two fell.
The Park Service says they weren’t using ropes at the time.