Blog Cabin

Rough winter weather raking Northern MT again today

Wind driven snow at the Two Medicine Bridge near Browning- MDT webcam (BROWNING)- It's another rough day for travelers, and life in general, across Northern Montana today, as a combination of snow from the west and cold, Arctic air from the north are combining for lots of wind driven snow. 

Earlier this week, many roads along the Northern Rocky Mountain Front were closed completely by blowing and drifting snow. 

Today, snow is continuing, and winds are driving it across roads, making it hard for plow crews to keep up. However, most of the major roads are open, although there are problems again with reduced visibility. 

Near Browning, U.S. 2 remains open from Marias Pass into North Central Montana. However, U.S. 89 is closed up the east side of Glacier National Park, when it crosses the steep divide between Cut Bank Creek and St. Mary. 

Other highways around Great Falls, and east through Havre are also being hit with strong winds and blowing and drifting snow, as well as some heavy snowfall. 


No grizzly hunting in Montana for 2018

Dennis Bragg photo(HELENA)- There will be no grizzly bear hunting in Montana, at least not this year. The Montana Wildlife Commission is accepting a recommendation from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff to not stage a hunt for the bears near Yellowstone, where the bears were removed from Endangered Species protection last year. 

There had been anticipation Montana may allow a limited hunt for grizzlies in the areas surrounding Yellowstone, where the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where taken out of "threatened species" status in a controversial move by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service last year. That decision would leave grizzly management, including possible hunts to limit bear populations, up to the states, including Idaho and Wyoming. 

However, yesterday in Helena, the Wildlife Commission was told there are some problems with Montana scheduling a grizzly hunt later this year. FWP staff note there's still pending litigation challenging the USFWS de-listing. Additionally, there are issues on how to limit the harvest to just a single sow grizzly in addition to half-a-dozen males. Montana could only launch a hunt if there was a single, "independent" sow grizzly available, and FWP staff say that possibility is "very limited."

Idaho is scheduled to discuss a grizzly hunt in March. The Wyoming Wildlife Commission has already directed staff to draw up plans for a hunt this year. 


Fire-damaged Sperry Chalet weathering winter

Photo courtesy Gravity Shots and Glacier National Park Conservancy (GLACIER NATIONAL PARK)-There are still several weeks of winter left. But there's good news to report about the resiliency of the historic Sperry Chalet in the Glacier National Park backcountry, which burned last summer.

The historic chalet was nearly destroyed during when the Sprauge Fire burned into the high mountain area late last summer. The interior of the old dormitory building was destroyed, but the walls were still standing. The Glacier National Park Conservancy raised local funds and paid for contractors to shore up the stone walls so they could withstand the winter snows. 

Now, an overflight funded by the Conservancy shows the Chalet standing strong against winter's assault. The walls show no signs of damage. More importantly, there's been no avalanches near the damaged dormitory. That's a major concern given the chalet's location in a cirque where slides are common. 

The Conservancy has raised over $127,000 so far to help fund the chalet's eventual rebuilding. 


Granite County commissioner pleads innocence to theft charges 

(PHILIPSBURG)- Granite County Commissioner Scott Adler is pleading innocent to theft charges, with accusations he used county equipment on a paving project at his own property last year.

Adler is facing two misdemeanor charges for "testing" the equipment on his own land. He claims he had the endorsement of the other two commissioners, but they have said they didn't know it was going on. Adler said the test was to see if a certain milling process was feasible to use on county roads. 

The formal charges came after a investigation into the complaint by the Montana Attorney General's Office. Adler had re-imbursed the county $1400, but the A.G. questioned whether that was full cost of the work for the county.

Adler made a brief appearance in a Philipsburg courtroom yesterday. He'll be back for a pre-trial hearing in March. No formal trial date has been scheduled on the misdemeanor charges. 


MSU sets another enrollment record

(BOZEMAN)- Montana State University continues to burst at the seams, with Spring Enrollment setting another new record for the start of 2018.

New figures released by the school this past week show 15,496 students enrolled for classes to start this year, an increase of almost 300 students from the same time last year. 

MSU administrators believe the continued strong enrollment is fueled in large part by programs and initiatives designed to keep students, and especially first year students, on track to graduate. MSU's four year graduation rate is hovering just under 27%, an improvement of about 7% over the past five years. MSU's "Freshman 15" campaign also puts students on a track to graduate sooner, saving them tuition. 

MSU's spring enrollment is the second record this school year. Last fall's 16,703 students was also a record.

The University of Montana is still processing its numbers for the first look at enrollment for spring, with UM running on a week later schedule than MSU.