Blog Cabin

Work on Bitterroot wilderness dam starts 

(DARBY)- Crews will start work on a backcountry dam project in the Bitterroot National Forest that engineers hope will make the aging structure safer.

The Tin Cup Lake Dam is located 14-miles southwest of Darby, but is also 7-miles inside the boundary of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The dam was built back in 1906 to supply irrigation water to the Tin Cup County Water District, long before the wilderness area was established.

But the dam is now classed as a “high hazard” dam, and the Forest Service has spent the past couple of years deciding how to improve its safety. The dam is 25-feet high and more than 400-feet long and holds back more than 900-acre-feet of water.

Under the plan that will be implemented this week, the water district’s contractors will be able to shore up the embankments and modify the dam’s spillway. Under the environmental review that was completed, the Forest Service had to give special permission for crews to use a helicopter to haul construction equipment and supplies into the dam site; gear that’s too heavy for pack stock to carry.

The helicopter will have 8-to-9 days to fly into the site, with most of those flights at the beginning and end of the construction. Personnel and camp supplies will be going in on foot and using horses or mules for access up the 10-mile trail.

The Forest Service says using a helicopter will actually shorten the amount of time and disruption the project will cause.


Crews still working Avalanche Butte Fire

(HELENA)- Fire crews are still working to keep the Avalanche Butte fire near Helena from spreading onto private lands.

And so far, the efforts are working despite the winds and hot temperatures of the past couple of days, with the fire still at about 40-acres.

The fire, which is believed to have started from lightning, is burning in sub-alpine fire and whitebark pine at the head of Avalanche Gulch. The terrain is known for naturally-occurring fires, so eventually fire managers say the blaze will actually help improve terrain for wildlife and livestock grazing on the forest. They also say the location of the fire in the Big Belt Mountains will help break up the fuels in the area to help manage future wildfires under more extreme conditions. (U.S.F.S. photo)

But for now, firefighters are trying to suppress the fire to keep it from spreading onto private property, and keep the blaze burning in a designated area.


Air show draws thousands to Great Falls

(GREAT FALLS)- 25-years ago this summer America was squarely in the middle of the "Danger Zone" with the flying film "Top Gun" setting box office records and thrilling 1986 movie audiences.

Today, Tom Cruise, Goose and the rest are just a footnote to film history. But our fascination with fighter jets, and aircraft in general hasn't diminished, as evidenced by the huge crowds turning out for the Great Falls Air Show.

Thousands flocked to the Electric City Saturday to see the Blue Angels fly and dozens of other planes perform or on display on solid earth.(KRTV photo)

KRTV reports people came from not only Montana, but out of state to participate.


WA man dies in another Lost Prairie sky diving accident

(MARION)- Authorities say a Washington State man died while skydiving at Lost Prairie west of Kalispell Saturday, apparently when his parachute failed to deploy.

The Daily Interlake is reporting the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department says the man was pronounced dead at the scene after the fall on Saturday afternoon.

Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says the investigation is still underway, and an autopsy will likely be performed in the next couple of days. The FAA is also investigating.

The death is the latest in a long string of fatal accidents at the Lost Prairie Boogie, where skydivers make repeated jumps during the 10-day long event near Marion. It was just last summer when a woman died when her chute failed to open. And in 2007, in one of the worst aviation accidents in Western Montana in several years, five people were killed when one of the planes being used by the divers crashed on take-off.

The Daily Interlake has more details on Saturday’s accident.

KAJ TV is reporting that authorities don't believe the man tried to deploy the chute during his dive. And a computer fail safe used to deploy the chute was turned off.


The 90s rule!

(MISSOULA)- It may sound like a VH-1 show that gets played over and over, but “I Love the 90s” was certainly the weather theme of the day across Montana.

By the time the sun went down Saturday, the map was full of plus-90 degree high temperatures for the day. And although the clouds took some of the shine off the day for some, it was still a spectacular version of summer.

West of the Divide, the Lower Clark Fork country had the highest readings. Plains hit a sizzling 98-degrees, Thompson Falls managed 96, and St. Regis sizzled at 97.

In the Kootenai, Libby checked in with 94 and Troy hit an official high of 95. To the north, Eureka registered a 93.

The Flathead kept its cool, relatively speaking, with an official high in Kalispell of 88, although many places in the valley showed readings in the low 90s. In the Mission Valley, Swan Valley and Little Bitterroot valleys, temperatures all climbed into the low 90s as well. Hot Springs lived up to its name with a high of 94.

Elsewhere, Missoula hit an official high at the airport of 90 while Stevensville hit the highest note in the Bitterroot at 91.

Clouds and showers took off some of the edge in SW Montana, although Ennis still managed a high of 94 with Three Forks at 97 and Bozeman at 95. Great Falls took the hot spot award at 100 degrees, with Billings at 93. Temperatures east of the Divide were generally in the 80s and 90s.