Blog Cabin
Tuesday
Oct242017

Montana leaders celebrate victory in campaign spending case 

(HELENA)- It's a victory being celebrated by top Montana leaders from both parties. 

Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox are welcoming a ruling that upheld the state's limits on campaign contributions, which were first approved by voters in 1994.

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2016 ruling in Lair v Motl, a case which has been rumbling through the courts since 2011 which challenged the voter-approved spending limits. The argument had been that the state's limits on individual and political party contributions were a violation of the right of free political speech. 

But the appeals judges found otherwise, saying the state had shown increased spending last year had actually shown evidence of interests attempting to use campaign contributions to acquire legislation. 

But we still don't know if the plaintiffs will appeal the ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals released yesterday. 

Tuesday
Oct242017

Montana's big game season gets off to a big start

(MISSOULA)- Nothing like a little fierce fall weather to stir up the game in time for Montana's hunters. 

Montana’s general big game hunting season opened on Saturday, and in the west-central part of the state, hunter check stations reports show the highest number of big game animals harvested on opening weekend since 2010.

In fact, game agents say it turned out to be the best opener for white-tailed deer in more than a decade, matching the robust hunts of the early 2000s. And elk numbers were the highest in 5-years. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported 117 elk, 111 white-tailed deer, 15 mule deer and five black bears at its Darby, Anaconda and Bonner check stations combined.

“The check stations only sample a relatively small portion of the hunting effort and harvests across the region, and they don’t tell the whole story by any means,” said Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager. “But, check stations do a good job of showing us trends over time, and the opening weekend numbers tell us that the hunting season is off to a stronger start than we seen in a while." 

Tuesday
Oct242017

Missoula forum to discuss lessons from 2017 fire season

(MISSOULA)- It's not the worst fire season Montana has faced.

But the summer of 2017 could be a forecast of fire seasons to come. 

Over one million acres burned across Montana this year, driven largely by five or six major fires which scorched 50,000 to more than 100,000 acres and the Lodgepole Fire in Eastern Montana which consumed 270,000 acres of forest and open range land. It's considered the worst fire season in a decade or more. 

A special forum tonight will discuss the challenges, and lessons learned from the volatile 2017 fire season.

"Living with Fire" will bring together a panel of fire managers and specialists to to discuss not only the past season, but the trends which could impact future summers here in Western Montana. The forum is sponsored by "Treesource", a new online magazine dealing with forest issues. The forum starts at 7 in the UC Theater on the University of Montana campus and is free and open to the public. 

Tuesday
Oct242017

Trial of doctor accused of overprescribing drugs underway 

(HAMILTON) -Testimony resumed Tuesday in the trial of a former Florence doctor accused of overprescribing drugs to dozens of patients.

Dr. Chris Christensen was charged following a 2014 raid of his clinic in Florence by a combined task force involving the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office, state and federal officers. The seizure of records eventually led to more than 300 charges being filed, including two counts of negligent homicide for the deaths of two of his patients. Prosecutors reduced those charges to just under two dozen as the trial began last week in Hamilton.

Following opening arguments Monday, the the juryis  expected to hear from one of the mothers of a patient who died from "mixed toxicity" caused by the drugs Christensen prescribed.

Defense attorneys claim Christensen was "compassionate to a fault".

Tuesday
Sep122017

Glacier still on pace for record year, even with fires 

(WEST GLACIER)- Even though much of the west side of Glacier National Park is closed right now because of the Sprague Fire, the park appears it could still set a record for visitation in 2017.

The park had been running well ahead of last year's record pace, which had seen 2.9-million people come through the gates last year. In fact, the park set an all-time monthly visitor record in July, when more than a million people toured the park. That was a 23% jump over last year.  

New statistics just released for August show 908,000 visitors came to the park, pushing the year-to-date total to 2.8-million.

The west side of the park's popular Going-to-the-Sun Road, and the McDonald Valley have been closed since the start of September. But the east side of the park remains open, so it seems likely the park will match last year's visitor mark, and could even break 3-million people for the first time ever by the end of this year.