Blog Cabin
Monday
Mar262018

Forest Service plans to replant a portion of Lolo Peak Fire burn

Dennis Bragg photo (MISSOULA)- The Forest Service is going to move forward with plans to re-plant nearly 8-thousand acres of timberlands that burned in last summer's Lolo Peak Fire. 

The fire burned over 53,000 acres, after it was started by a mid-July lightning storm. The blaze burned for weeks, destroying two homes and eight outbuildings when it flared up along the Northern Bitterroot Mountain Front in early August. 

While much of the fire burned in the backcountry, and high elevation areas that limit access, there are portions of the burn which forest managers say could benefit from replanting. 

The Forest Service is proposing to clear out underbrush, remove dead and dying trees and plant native species like Ponderosa and Western Larch that are more fire resistant than Douglas Fir which made up much of the timber that burned so fiercely. 

Lolo National Forest is taking public comment on the replanting plans for the next month. 

 

Monday
Mar262018

Montana counties welcome renewal of critical federal funding

Dennis Bragg photo (HAMILTON)- Montana's county commissioners are breathing easier this week after Congress finally passes a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools funding. 

The money, which is designed to replace timber tax revenues lost in the past couple of decades, had been in limbo since the previous funding ran out in 2015. The program was originally approved in 2000 to help counties where reductions in logging had dried up an important source of local funding, especially for schools and roads. 

That's put pressure on all the counties, but especially rural counties like Mineral and Ravalli counties, which had been depending on the money for a variety of operations and services. 

 

The new money is included in the government spending bill approved Friday. 

 

Monday
Mar262018

Historic Neptune tankers headed for new homes

Neptune Aviation photo (MISSOULA)- Neptune Aviation's legendary propellor driven firefighting tankers are headed for new homes. 

The Missoula-based company opted to retire the classic "P2V" tankers at the end of the 2017 fire season, now that it has a full fleet of "net gen", jet-powered tankers to take their place. The tankers had been the backbone of the company's firefighting force for more than two decades, flying thousands of missions across the country. 

Now, after considering options for the P2Vs, Neptune has announced the planes will be headed to several museums later this year. 

Tanker 07 will be going to the Estrella Warbirds Museum in Pasa Robles, California with Tanker 05 going to the Glendive Airport in eastern Montana for display. Tanker 06 will be placed in Klamath Falls, Oregon when there's an airbase and memorial to a tanker that crashed while fighting a local fire. Tanker 45 will be sent to the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville, Michigan and Tanker 43 will go to the Sand Diego Air and Space Museum. 

The former Evergreen Tanker 142 will be displayed at the airport in Alamogordo in New Mexico. 

Neptune will keep Tankers 14 and 44 operational for displays at air shows around the country. 

 

Monday
Mar262018

Montana stays on sidelines of reviving grizzly hunts 

Dennis Bragg photo (BOISE)- While Montana stays on the sidelines, Idaho is now joining Wyoming with plans for possible grizzly bear hunts this fall.

All three states have been analyzing the options for using limited grizzly hunts adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, now that the federal government has removed threatened species protection for the big bears. State wildlife managers say the hunts would be used to control bear populations, just as is done with other game.

However, the de-listing has been challenged in federal court by conservation groups and tribes. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks leaders have already indicated they will likely not stage a hunt this year because of the pending litigation, and the complexities of taking just a handful of bears. 

Wyoming is considering a draft proposal allowing hunters to kill up to 24-bears. And yesterday, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to start collecting public comments on a proposed hunting season near Yellowstone. The plan could be finalized in May.

Monday
Mar262018

Montana gas prices continue slight drop

Montana's gas prices are continuing to drop slightly just in time for Spring Break travel. But experts say we shouldn't expect that to last. 

The latest survey from GasBuddy.com shows the average price of gas in Montana has dropped half a cent in the past week, averaging $2.56 a gallon in the latest survey on Sunday. That's different than the nationwide average, which climbed nearly 5-cents per gallon in the same period. 

However, gas prices remain considerably higher than last year. Prices in Montana were 22.4 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 2.9 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. 

Drivers in Idaho are paying $2.67 a gallon with prices in Wyoming still a "bargain" at $2.42 a gallon.