Nicky Ouellet

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.

The Blackfeet Reservation remains under a state of emergency as yet another blizzard bears down on the Rocky Mountain Front tonight into tomorrow. The series of storms have forced Heart Butte Public Schools to close 10 times since the start of the year.

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.

Blackfeet Nation Disaster and Emergency Services is advising people to stay off roadways during a blizzard that’s hit the reservation carrying what’s described as “hurricane force winds” and white-out conditions.

Several major roadways, including Highway 89 north and south of Browning, are closed due to poor visibility and wind-blown snow drifts. U.S. Highway 2 is open but experiencing severe driving conditions. Conditions are expected to worsen tonight.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is offering a $100,000 award for new approaches to eradicate invasive quagga and zebra mussels from open water.

The Bureau opened a prize challenge competition last December to generate new ideas to wipe the mollusks out of open water, something that’s never been done before.

A proposal to build an 11,000-square-foot church and retail building in downtown Whitefish was denied by the city council Tuesday night.

Search and rescue teams are still looking for a man who went missing Saturday night after skiing into the backcountry outside of Whitefish Mountain Resort. The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating the multi-agency search for 62-year-old Jonathan Torgerson of Columbia Falls.

Torgerson, a physician at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, was reported overdue Saturday night after skiing alone just before a storm moved in carrying strong wind gusts and a foot of snow. He was believed to be skiing out-of-bounds in the Canyon Creek area off of Flower Point.

Whitefish-native Maggie Voisin is competing at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday night, in the women’s slopestyle skiing event.

At a bar in Whitefish, locals are sure to turn out tonight to cheer on nineteen-year-old Voisin. She spoke with NBC Sports in January after clinching her spot on Team USA.

The Montana Department of Commerce is creating a new position to promote tourism in Indian Country.

Casey Lozar with the Department of Commerce says the new Tribal Tourism Officer will develop culturally appropriate visitor orientation and tourism services in cooperation with the eight Native American nations in Montana.

A prolonged winter storm has closed roads, schools and tribal offices on the Blackfeet Reservation. 

Five feet of wind-drifted snow buried roads in some places, preventing plows from reaching outlier communities like Heart Butte. Some people have been stranded since the weekend after a blizzard moved through the eastern Rocky Mountain front last week. 

The increased gas tax Montana lawmakers passed last year collected more than $6 million in its first four months. That money is going to city and county governments to pay for roads, bridges and other street maintenance projects. But changes at the federal level could leave local projects in limbo.