The Idaho Conservation League and the Endangered Species Coalition have asked federal officials to do a status review that could lead to relisting wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Montana and Idaho. Both states’ management of wolves has been under federal oversight for five years after wolves were delisted a decade ago. The groups claim that oversight needs to be reinstated because the previous five-year monitoring period has been demonstrated to be inadequate. The groups said the changes in wolf hunting laws pose such a serious threat to wolf populations that they trigger a status review requirement as outlined in a 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Dorio’s, an Italian restaurant, has opened on California Avenue in Libby. They are currently serving lunch with plans to begin dinner service soon. Phone is 406-200-3193
Montana’s state parks have recorded more than 1.57 million visitors thru June 2021. This is an 11% increase over the same period last year and a 44% increase over the same period in 2019, according to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Twenty-seven of the 45 state parks that were open from the start of January through the end of June reported increases in visitation over the same period in 2020. More than half of all visitations occurred in Region 1, headquartered in Kalispell, and Region 4, headquartered in Great Falls.
U.S. Minerals, Inc., admitted recently to violating the Clean Air Act, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. Minerals has agreed to settle a related civil case regarding violations brought by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). U.S. Minerals pleaded guilty to one count of negligent endangerment, a misdemeanor, under the Clean Air Act. Under the terms of a plea agreement in the criminal case, the government and U.S. Minerals will recommend to the Court that the company be placed on probation for five years and pay a $393,200 fine.
According to data from the 2020 Census, Montana is changing demographically. Overall the state’s population grew about 10% with 38 counties showing some growth over the past decade. Gallatin County added the most new residents with 29,447 or 33%. Rosebud County lost the most residents with 904 fewer residents than in the 2010 Census. Percentage wise, Liberty County showed the steepest drop in population with a loss of 16% over 10 years. The percentage of white people dropped one percent to 91% of the state’s population. American Indian/Alaskan Native is the largest minority at 9%. The number of Hispanic residents grew by one percent moving up from 3% to 4%.
Sweet Retreat Creamery has opened in Columbia Falls at 734 Ninth St. W. Sweet Retreat is open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Starbucks coffee shop has opened at the Glacier Basecamp Lodge in Columbia Falls. The new Starbucks will be in the front of the lodge close to the intersection of U.S. 2 and Montana 206. The lodge is a 7-acre property with lodging options there include kitchenettes, family suites and recreational vehicle sites.
At the end of 2020, the average home sale was $352,234 in the Helena market. There were 1,050 homes sold in 2020 with the average days on market being 10. In July of 2019, there were 204 homes for sale in the Helena market – in July of 2021, there were 67 homes for sale.
Aug. 16, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks announced new fishing closures along the Big Hole River in the areas between Dickie Bridge and North Fork. These closures, related to the low volume of waterflow, will remain in effect until Oct. 31, or until FWP says otherwise
The Montana Community Foundation (MCF) announced the addition of two key staff members located in Billings and Havre. Heather Ohs and Jim Bennett join MCF as Philanthropy Officers. They will work with donors and professional advisors to achieve their charitable goals through estate giving and planned giving. Ohs lives in Billings and has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Bennett lives in Havre and has extensive knowledge of relationship management, fund development, and donor stewardship. Jim was most recently the Relationship Manager at Northwest Farm Credit Services.
Volunteers of America Northern Rockies (VOA) and Peak Wellness Center (PWC) have officially joined forces through a merger. The combined organization served more than 15,000 individuals across Wyoming, Montana and Western South Dakota last year. On September 8, from 12- 1:30 pm Volunteers of America will host a luncheon to celebrate the merger. The Honorable Mark Gordon, Governor of Wyoming, will deliver the keynote address and other speakers will include Jeff Holsinger, CEO of Volunteers of America Northern Rockies and Mike King, National CEO of Volunteers of America Inc.
On average, single family homes in Gallatin County sold in less than a month during July. Last month also marked the fifth consecutive month in which sellers received more than 100% of their list price in both the single family and condo/townhome markets. The number of new listings decreased 6.4% in July compared to last year, from 219 to 205. Pending sales decreased 27.2%, from 243 to 177. The number of closed sales decreased 37.7%, from 231 to 144. The average days on market decreased 46.8%, from 47 to 25. The median sales price increased 42.1%, from $489,000 to $695,000. Sellers received 100.9% of their list price, up from 99.2% last July. The inventory of available homes decreased 28.6%, from 318 to 227, while the months’ supply of inventory dropped 30.4%, from 2.3 to 1.6.
Montana Public Radio has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust to expand news coverage across western and central Montana over the next two years. MTPR will soon add news reporters in Butte and Great Falls.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the appointment of Ryan Lankford to serve on the FSA state committee in Montana which oversees the delivery of FSA federal farm programs to the state’s agricultural producers. Members of the FSA state committee are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and are responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations. Lankford, of Chinook, produces conventional and certified organic small grain, pulse and seed crops.
Northern Ag Network reports: The Rosebud County Cattlewomen have established an account for cash donations to be given to ranchers affected by the Richard Spring, Rough Draw and Slough Grass fires. In one of the worst fire years on record for Montana, over 2,000 fires have burned more than half a million acres and continue to burn. The Richard Spring fire in Rosebud County has burned 170,000 acres as of this writing).
American Prairie, an organization that is acquiring and collaboratively-managing prairie lands in Montana to establish an ecosystem for wildlife, has increased its enrollment of thousands of acres in the in the Block Management hunter access program managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The organization claims that the move boosts property open to hunters.20 people have drawn a bison permits for a bison hunt and 18 drew permits or elk on the Blue Ridge property. Landowners enrolling in the Block Management program receive limited liability protection, livestock loss reimbursement, and compensation (up to $25,000) to offset potential public hunting impacts.
Big Sky Care Connect (BSCC), a health information exchange (HIE), is partnering with Health Catalyst Inc. (HCAT), a provider of data and analytics technology and services to healthcare organizations, to provide clinicians throughout Montana access to Health Catalyst’s technology and services to advance data-informed healthcare improvement throughout the state. Before the go-live launch of BSCC in 2020, Montana was just one of two states in the U.S. without a state-designated HIE, a system for improving patient health through sophisticated information technology. BSCC feeds data from healthcare providers across the state into a centralized digital network which serves as a real-time information portal for participating providers, patients and payors in Montana. Healthcare organizations of all types throughout Montana can participate in the network.