Environment & Science

Lodgepole Complex Fire
Nate Hegyi / YPR

This has been the most expensive fire season in Montana since at least 1999. Both the state and federal governments have spent a combined $378 million dollars so far battling blazes.

Nate Hegyi / YPR

Montana’s first-ever climate assessment says this past summer may be a vision of the state’s future due to climate change. 

“Montana is going to get warmer and the warming is going to be greater than in a lot of parts of the United States and the world,” says Cathy Whitlock, the report's lead author. The climate assessment was released today.


A public hearing on a proposed water bottling plant in the Flathead Valley starts Tuesday morning in Kalispell. Montana’s Department of Natural Resources is holding the hearing to determine whether to grant a water right to the Montana Artesian Water Company.

A legal settlement announced late Friday afternoon could send $10 million to the town of Colstrip to mitigate impacts from the partial shut down of the huge coal-fired power plant there.

"I think it’s a win for the town of Colstrip and a win for the state of Montana," says Eric Sell, a spokesman for Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.

The National Weather Service says the rain and snow western Montana is getting should continue through next week, and will potentially end this year’s fire season. The agency issued a winter storm warning for most of western Montana from 9 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Saturday, anticipating a dramatic change to very cold, wet weather.

Meteorologist Jenn Kitsmiller expects that will clear out smoke from the region and slow down fire activity.

Jim Peaco / NPS

Yellowstone National Park biologists have euthanized a grizzly bear with a history of exhibiting bold behavior toward humans.

Even after being captured, tagged and relocated to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in 2015, Yellowstone Public Information Officer Jason Schafer says the bear was undeterred.

Nate Hegyi / YPR

In central Montana, drones are dropping peanut butter pellets on prairie dog colonies. It’s part of of an effort by biologists at the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge to save North America’s most endangered mammal.

Keeping Montanans up to date on all the fires burning in the state is a challenge in this unprecedented fire season.  

The Bureau of Land Management office for Montana and the Dakotas has been meeting that challenge since September 1, 2017 using social media.

Now that fire season has extended into the school year, many western Montana schools have been keeping kids inside because of heavy smoke. But that doesn’t mean they’re breathing clean air. Some community partnerships are springing up to try to get air filters into more classrooms.

National Weather Service

This was the second driest summer on record in Montana, but meteorologists say rain is finally on the way. 

Since July, the state has seen towns threatened by wildfires and choked with smoke, crops getting killed by drought and grass fires destroying rangeland. 

But a cold and rainy system entering Montana Thursday could put at least a temporary end to the suffering.

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