Nicky Ouellet

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.

When the Blackfeet Tribe learned its tribal members were about to start receiving payouts from a massive federal court settlement, the tribe wanted to get ahead of some of the problems that can arise when a lot of money floods a cash-based society.

"There was about 150 some million dollars that was injected into this economy here," says Mark Magee, the Blackfeet Tribe’s land department director.

Glacier National Park has stopped issuing backcountry camping permits due to an expected increase in fire activity this weekend.

This weekend’s incoming cold front will likely usher in gusty winds and dry thunderstorms, which fire officials say could grow existing fires and start new ones across western Montana.

A popular high school cross country meet in the Flathead has been canceled due to wildfire smoke. It’s not the only high school sport facing adverse impacts from poor air quality.

Fire officials on the Sprague Fire burning in Glacier National Park had good news and bad news at a public fire meeting at Park Headquarters Wednesday night. The good news, they told a standing room only crowd of more than 150 people, is that the smoke choking the Flathead Valley has also been dampening fire activity, holding the Sprague Fire at roughly 13,000 acres.

In the first public meeting since learning that homes had been lost to the Caribou fire, a crowd of 300 vented their frustrations with fire managers over their handling of the Caribou and Gibralter Ridge Fires Monday night in the auditorium at the high school in Eureka.

Crowd member: Would you mind answering the question? The question was, are we a test bed for not suppressing fires in their infancy?

Plans for a water bottling plant outside Kalispell moved one step closer to fruition Tuesday. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued a wastewater discharge permit for the Montana Artesian Water Company. It’s one of two permits the plant needs to open.

A crew of firefighters working on the Liberty Fire east of Arlee found themselves trapped Saturday night, after a sudden shift in the wind ignited hundreds of small spot fires in the path of their planned escape route.

Thursday night, strong winds fanned the Sprague Fire burning in Glacier National Park and nearly doubled its size. The flames engulfed and destroyed the main rock and timber dormitory of the Sperry Chalet, which for more than a hundred years offered a haven of amenities to hikers in Glacier’s rugged backcountry.

Today, the internet is flooded with personal stories that together weave a history of the lost National Historic Landmark.

One of Glacier National Park’s historic backcountry lodges was lost to the Sprague Fire Thursday evening.

The main building at the Sperry Chalet burned despite firefighters’ best efforts. The team had staged there for the past week to lay an extensive hose, sprinkler and pump system around all of the structures associated with the Chalet.

At last night’s public meeting on the Rice Ridge Fire in Ovando, John Thompson, the incident commander leading the charge against it, said Wednesday will be a big day.

"I'm gonna tell you straight up that tomorrow [Wed, 8/30] is probably going to be one of the most challenging days we have of this fire season," Thompson said.

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