NBC Montana says that pine beetle infestations have played a big role in Montana’s fire seasons over the years. Once infested, trees die, and what’s left behind is perfect fuel for wildfires. Those trees present another hazard, as well. That’s why forest officials are warning hikers of falling trees this season. Read the full story here.
Montana Public Radio says that yesterday the U.S. House passed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill with strong bipartisan support. It funds the federal government through September. The bill now heads to the Senate where NPR says it is also likely to pass with bipartisan support. Read the full article here.
The Missoulian reports that Montana’s congressional delegation says reforms to forest management, including an end to “fire borrowing,” will be included in must-pass legislation this week. On a media call Wednesday, Republicans Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte detailed a forest reform package as part of an omnibus bill, which includes funding wildfires similarly to other natural disasters. The reform ends fire borrowing — the practice of using funds from other programs such as trail maintenance to pay for fires that exceed budgets. Under the changes, when fire budgets run dry, agencies may tap into natural disaster funding rather than their own budgets. Read the full story here.
Montana Public Radio reports that National Weather Service projections show a hot, dry summer for Montana this year. Megan Syner, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service says through this spring Montana will continue to see below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. But that could change mid-summer. Read the full story here.
The Flathead Beacon reports that State wildlife officials say grizzly bears have begun leaving their dens along the Rocky Mountain Front. Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist Mike Madel said Tuesday that based on reported sightings and footprints, he estimates four or five bears are out. Read the full story here and be on the lookout for bears!