Mountain snows will swell streams in N. Rockies
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A hefty mountain snowpack in the Northern Rockies has driven down the summer wildfire potential and bumped up prospects that farmers in most of Montana and Wyoming won’t go dry. As for flooding, government forecasters say the coming weeks will make all the difference. A relatively even warm-up would keep swollen streams and rivers in check. Too much warm weather and flooding could again threaten downstream communities. Deep snows across the region three years ago led to flooding in the Missouri River basin that swamped hundreds of thousands of acres across the Upper Midwest. Department of Agriculture hydrologist Lucas Zukiewicz in Bozeman says 2011 stood out as an anomaly caused by late snowfalls and heavy rains.
He forecasts above-average stream flows across most of the region through July 31.
Black Eagle fire department proposes fee schedule
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A volunteer fire department north of Great Falls proposes to introduce a new range of fees for its fire protection services. Fire officials are proposing a 12-tier system of fees. Fees would begin at the current flat rate of $100 a year and go up from there. The Great Falls Tribune reports the Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed changes Thursday. The lowest rate would apply to homes valued at less than $50,000. That’s almost half of the 500 properties in the rural area. The fee would increase to $150 a year for properties valued at between $50,000 and $100,000. The top-tier fee of $9,000 a year would apply to major facilities, which include a dam.
Man arrested after Great Falls standoff identified
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Police have identified a man they say fired shots at a sheriff’s deputy and held officers at bay during a two-hour standoff at a mobile home in Great Falls.
They’ve charged 22-year-old Ernest Miller of Great Falls with felony criminal endangerment, attempted deliberate homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted person.
Police Lt. John Sowell says Miller had an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to his abdomen. The Great Falls Tribune reports Friday’s standoff began after police arrived to investigate a suspected burglary. Police say a man fired three shots at a deputy, then jumped a fence and ran into a house. Police say they heard shots inside and others fled the home. They say they contacted Miller by phone and he later surrendered.
Search underway for plane missing near Yellowstone
CODY, Wyo. (AP) — A search and rescue team is looking for a single-engine plane with two people on board that may have crashed near Yellowstone National Park. Park County sheriff’s officials say the 1963 Mooney M20C was last seen Tuesday departing Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody. On board were 84-year-old Robert Zimmerman of Huntsville, Alabama, and 86-year-old Ward Zimmerman of Seattle. The brothers were headed from Cody to Twin Falls, Idaho, and from there to Seattle. Radar last detected the plane about 7 miles outside the Yellowstone east entrance in northwest Wyoming. Poor weather prevented an aerial search, but searchers were on the ground in that area Sunday. The search began after police in Idaho on Saturday asked Park County officials to check for the plane at the Cody airport.
UM anticipates fall enrollment increase
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — University of Montana officials say there’s a good chance they’ll enroll more students this fall compared with enrollment over the previous two years.
Commencement ceremonies will take place Saturday. An estimated 3,600 students will graduate. Provost Perry Brown says projections for new students this fall are up. Compared with last year, an additional 500 students have expressed interest in enrolling this fall. Whether that will translate into a larger student body remains to be seen. The Billings Gazette reports this year’s graduating class is an unusually large one. University officials say it’s too soon to say yet if the number of incoming students will offset the number of students who are graduating.
Helena, Great Falls, television stations sold
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The local NBC affiliate television stations in Helena and Great Falls have been sold to a company based in Atlanta. Intermountain West Communications Co. has sold KTVH in Helena and KBGF in Great Falls to Atlanta-based Gray Television. Gray meanwhile has reached a deal to buy KMTF, the CW station affiliate for the Helena market, from Rocky Mountain Broadcasting. The Helena Independent Record reports the total cost of the three stations is $2 million. Gray will begin operating the NBC affiliates June 1. Intermountain West once owned 11 stations but has sold off most of those over the last few years. After this sale, it will only own one station. Gray will own a total of 75 stations pending new acquisitions in 42 markets.
BLM seeks bids for new corrals for wild horses
RENO, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is soliciting bids for new, short-term holding facilities for wild horses removed from Western rangelands under its ongoing program to thin what it calls overpopulated herds. Bids will be accepted until June 2 from those interested in operating the corrals in 17 Western and Midwestern states. The BLM places mustangs in the facilities until they’re adopted or shipped to long-term pastures in the Midwest. Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign says the plans come at a time when the agency already “warehouses” more mustangs off the range than remain free in the wild. She says it’s an indication the BLM intends to remove more horses in direct contradiction to a recommendation by an independent panel of the National Academy of Sciences.