Nicky Ouellet

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.

This story was updated at 3:30pm.

Trenton Johnson was on just his second assignment for Oregon-based Grayback Forestry when he was struck by a falling tree.

As the state ramps up its efforts this year to screen boats for invasive species, some local groups have taken inspections into their own hands.

The City of Whitefish and the Whitefish Lake Institute, for example, have been running two city-funded mandatory check stations since Memorial Day at the only public boat launches on Whitefish Lake. The Whitefish Lake Institute, a local nonprofit that monitors water quality on the lake, also runs a decontamination station.

Fire season arrived in Montana this month. As crew leaders set up command centers and assess the flames, they’re seeing the product of previous management decisions that have shaped the forest.

Update: 6:30 p.m. 07/10/17

Tribal officials have increased the fire danger to “Extreme” on the west side of the Flathead Indian Reservation and “Very High” on the east side.

Fire managers for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes write in a press release that fine, dead fuels are drying out across the reservation. They add human behavior, such as tossing cigarette butts onto dry grass, leaving campfires unattended, lighting fireworks, burning debris and driving through dry grasses, has caused multiple grass fires across the Northern Rockies over the past week.

On Saturday night, I did what every newcomer to the Flathead Valley does to prove that they’re a local: I tossed a bike in my trunk and set out for Glacier National Park to bike Going-to-the-Sun Road by the light of the full moon.

At about 9:30 pm I watched a shadow creep up the side of the continental divide on the side of Going To The Sun Road, and then hopped on my bike and joined the stream of bikers making the climb up the iconic road.

The Wolf Point School District is facing a complaint of discrimination against its Native American students for the second time in the past 15 years. Last week, the Fort Peck Tribes filed what’s called a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education on behalf of their children.

Yellowstone Public Radio’s Brie Ripley and Montana Public Radio’s Nicky Ouellet team up to bring us this story.

Western governors are calling on Congress to amend the federal Endangered Species Act, with an eye for increasing the role of state governments in the use of the law.

The Western Governors Association made recommendations Wednesday for what states and federal agencies can do to improve species conservation and recovery.

Blackfeet tribal members rejected a measure to reform their constitution Tuesday.

The proposed reform constitution would have drastically revamped the structure of the tribe’s government by establishing a three-branch system with built-in checks and balances. But that change was rejected by tribal members. Instead, the tribe will retain its current nine-member, single branch governing body, called the Tribal Business Council, which has been in place for the past 82 years.

Motorists rejoice! Glacier National Park opened the full 50 miles of its iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road Wednesday.

After weeks of plowing, installing guard rails and removing rock debris, park officials have deemed the road safe for vehicular traffic.

From above, the northern Flathead Valley is a patchwork of yellow fields of canola, green tracts of grains and wandering curves of cerulean rivers. Heavily forested mountains erupt from the valley floor, some of them still scared by clear cut logging from decades ago.

"This area obviously has got multi-uses," says Bruce Gordon, a pilot for EcoFlight, a nonprofit based in Colorado that uses flyovers in small aircraft to advocate for protecting wildlands.

He’s in Whitefish this week to fly western governors over northwest Montana, to give them a visual as they talk this week about land management.

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