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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the northern Rockies.

Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the northern Rockies.
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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the northern Rockies.






Learning To Live With Wildfire Smoke: Researchers Talk Public Health, Firefighter Resiliency

Montana researchers who are looking into the impact of wildfire smoke on people's health, and on firefighters' resiliency updated the public on their work Tuesday at the University of Montana. Dr. Paul Smith is a professor of medicine at UM, and a pediatric pulmonologist. "Anecdotally, this is one of the worse seasons we've had at Community Medical Center for kids being admitted and on ventilators. Our floor has just been chock full this season. And, you wonder," said Smith.


UM Lecture To Address Health Impacts Of Wildfire Smoke

Last year, unprecedented levels of wildfire smoke from the epic 2017 wildfire season choked communities across western Montana and left lots of people wondering what breathing that smoke was doing to their health. And on Tuesday night on campus in Missoula, a University of Montana researcher will share some of his findings on the detrimental health effects of smoke.


Wildfire Experts Offer History Lesson On The Flathead's Big Burns

Even with two feet of snow on the ground, homeowners and fire managers in the Flathead Valley are thinking about fire season. FireSafe Flathead kicked off a four-part lecture series about wildland fire in western Montana at Flathead Valley Community College Thursday night. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet brings us the highlights.


UM Forest Scientists: Expect More Fire Seasons Like 2017

Half a year after a memorable fire season shrouded Montana in thick gray skies, burned more than a million acres and caused tens of millions of dollars in budget shortfalls, scientists at the University of Montana are saying Montanans should get used to it. In a lecture that about 200 people attended Tuesday night, forest ecology professor Andrew Larson was direct. "The number one most important driver of wildfire activity in our part of the world is year-to-year climate variation," he said....


New Study Finds Climate Change Reducing Forest Regrowth After Fires

In the forests of the Rocky Mountains, fewer trees are growing back after recent wildfires because of climate change. That’s what a team of researchers discovered after studying seedling regeneration at 1,500 sites in five different states. University of Montana fire ecology Professor Philip Higuera is a co-author of the study. He joins us now.


Montana Tourism On The Rise Despite Wildfires, Researchers Say

Despite a smoke-filled summer, researchers from the University of Montana say that 2017 was actually a good year for the travel industry . While almost 80 percent of businesses in northwestern Montana say they were affected by wildfires and smoke last summer, those same businesses raked in more than a billion dollars from out-of-state visitors.


Swan Forest Initiative Proposes Local Management Of National Forest Land

For more than half a decade, the Lake County Conservation District has been working on a proposal to transfer management of 60,000 acres from the Flathead National Forest to the state for the next 100 years. Despite opposition, the board voted to move forward last September, with the so-called Swan Forest Initiative. That means the next step is shopping the idea to Montana’s delegates in Congress. But two-thirds of Montana’s D.C. delegation say they haven’t heard of the Swan Forest...


Montana Appeals FEMA's Denial Of Wildfire Disaster Funding

Montana is appealing FEMA’s denial of the state's request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration following last year’s historic fire season. In late December, the federal government denied Governor Bullock’s initial request for help in covering some of the $44 million in firefighting costs billed to the state at the end of last summer summer when Montana’s own fire fund was almost drained.


Stonewall Logging Project Being Reconsidered After Wildfires

The U.S. Forest Service says additional analysis is needed for a forestry project near Lincoln in the aftermath of last summer’s wildfires . When the Park Creek and Arrastra wildfires merged into one big fire last August, it burned more than half of the Stonewall Vegetation Project-area northwest of Lincoln.


Flathead Forest Plans Open House For Proposed Timber Sale

The Flathead National Forest is hosting an open house on a proposed timber sale near Bigfork. The open house for the Bug Creek Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project happens February 6 at the Swan Lake Ranger Station in Bigfork. The agency will have specialists on hand to answer questions, it’s taking public comment on the proposal until February 16.


FEMA Denies Montana Request For Fire Disaster Funding

The federal government has denied Montana’s request for $44 million dollars in disaster funding following the historic 2017 fire season that burned over a million acres across the state.


Summer of Smoke Exposes Need For Clean Indoor Air In Montana

This past wildfire season , unprecedented amounts of wildfire smoke in communities across western Montana threw public health agencies a curveball. Yesterday, we dove into what we know and are still learning about the long term health impacts of exposure to wildfire smoke . Today, we’re looking at what it would take to provide filtered air to the most vulnerable Montanans.


The Summer of Smoke's Lingering Health Impacts On Seeley Lake

This summer, Missoula County had its worst wildfire smoke season on record. It’s unclear how exactly that impacted the health of county residents, both as the fires were burning and longer term, but researchers are starting to pull in some data.


Montana Lost Millions In Tourist Revenue Due To 2017 Fire Season, Study Says

A new study says Montana lost close to a quarter of a billion dollars in tourist revenue this year due to a tough fire season . That’s based on a survey of tourists by the University of Montana's Institute for Tourism and Recreational Research. "For every hundred visitors that came to Montana this summer, about eight to nine other visitors cancelled their trips because of the smoke," Associate Director Jeremy Sage says.


Montana Red Flag Warning Issued In December Is Latest On Record

When you think of winter in Montana, you think lots of snow, not wildfires. But today the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the eastern part of the state.


Forest Service Takes Regional Approach To Post-Fire Logging, Replanting

More than 700,000 acres of national forest land across Montana and Idaho burned this summer, and U.S. Forest Service officials are now deciding what to do with it. The agency this fall set up a post-fire incident management team to quickly analyze damage and plan next steps. Those steps include salvage logging, a controversial process that Incident Commander Mike Elson says will cover about 5 percent of burned areas across the region.


Forest Service To Meet With Tenmile Project Objectors

The Forest Service says it will meet with objectors to its plan to log and burn a nearly 18,000 acre area in Helena’s municipal watershed. The Tenmile-South Helena Vegetation Project was proposed in 2014 to reduce fire danger and protect water quality around Chessman reservoir, an area with a lot of homes in the wildland-urban interface.


Conservation Logging Set To Begin In Primm Meadow

Last week I visited a cherished and protected little piece of Montana. It's a meadow of old growth ponderosa pine trees a little upstream from where the Blackfoot River joins the Clark Fork, northeast of Missoula.


Special Session Recap: Montana's Budget Fix Explained

The Montana Legislature wrapped up the special session to fix the state’s overburdened budget early Thursday morning. Corin Cates-Carney has been covering the fast-paced developments all week. He’s here with us now to give us highlights from this week’s special session.


Tester Opposes Repeal Of Obamacare Mandate

Senate Republicans are pushing for a broad tax cut, contingent on the repeal of the law requiring Americans to buy insurance coverage. Montana Senator Jon Tester wants no part of it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says eliminating the individual mandate would leave millions uninsured.


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