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Latest Montana News
Monday, August 21st 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT
DEATH PENALTY-INDIAN COUNTRY

Most American Indian tribes opt out of federal death penalty

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — American Indian tribes for decades have been able to opt into the death penalty for certain federal crimes on tribal land. Nearly all reject it.

Tribes and legal experts say the decision goes back to culture and tradition, past treatment of American Indians and fairness in the justice system.

For those on the Navajo Nation, the sexual assault and murder of an 11-year-old girl near Shiprock, New Mexico, has reignited the issue. Ashlynne Mike's mother has been urging the tribe to opt in to the death penalty, particularly for crimes that involve children.

But the Southwestern tribe has long objected to putting people to death. The culture teaches that all life is precious.

One federally recognized tribe, the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, has opted in.

MONTANA DROUGHT

Nearly all of Montana is in or trending toward drought

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Nearly all of Montana is experiencing drought or trending toward drought, fueling wildfires and costing farmers millions of dollars.

The Billings Gazette reports https://goo.gl/cT54Ue drought conditions stretch 680 miles (1,094 kilometers) west to east from Noxon to Sidney. This is the first summer in 10 years that so much of the state was experiencing drought at the same time and the first year since 2004 that more than 10 percent of the state was in extreme drought, the worst category recognized.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, only 2.7 percent of the state is experiencing normal conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Montana is expecting crop losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and farmers are worried that fall rain won't follow the dry summer, making it difficult for them to seed winter wheat in the months ahead.

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MONTANA DEER POPULATION

Deer across Montana largely unscathed by harsh winter

(Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials say deer populations across much of Montana were largely unscathed by the brutal winter.

John Vore, game management bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, tells the Helena Independent Record https://goo.gl/5ysBrN that in most parts of the state, winterkill was minimal. But deer in northwest Montana were worse off because of heavy snow.

Mule deer estimates put populations well above the 10-year average. Biologists think more than 363,000 mule deer roam the state, compared to an average of just under 283,000.

The latest statewide estimates for whitetail deer are also above the long-term average. The estimate based on surveys and harvest put Montana's whitetail population at nearly 221,000, compared to the 10-year average of about 204,000.

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ECLIPSE TRAFFIC

Montana expects traffic delays during buildup to eclipse

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Highway Patrol is telling drivers to expect traffic delays during the buildup to Monday's solar eclipse.

The Billings Gazette reports https://goo.gl/u95frQ state troopers are focusing their attention on U.S. Highway 191 and U.S. Highway 20 between Belgrade and Island Park, Idaho; U.S. 287 and Montana Highway 87 between Three Forks and Island Park, Idaho, as well roadways in West Yellowstone and Ennis.

They also are asking drivers to take precautions to avoid sparking fires with their vehicles if they pull over to the side of the road to watch the eclipse. Much of Montana is experiencing varying levels of drought.

Sgt. Glen Barcus says that despite the preparations, his agency isn't quite sure what it will encounter Monday.

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YELLOWSTONE-FISH

Nonnative fish to be poisoned off in Yellowstone river

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park officials are about to deliberately poison off nonnative fish species in one of the park's major river drainages.

The operation along the upper Gibbon River begins Monday and will include lakes in the river drainage.

Park officials are targeting lake-dwelling grayling as well as rainbow trout and brook trout. They plan to reintroduce native species after the operation is finished.

Trails and campsites in the area will be closed.

MONTANA WILDFIRES

National Guard arrives at fast-growing Montana wildfire

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

LOLO, Mont. (AP) — National Guard troops are now helping out at a rapidly growing wildfire in western Montana.

The 155 soldiers who arrived Saturday will monitor 35 security checkpoints south of Missoula where an evacuation order is in place. The troops will relieve law enforcement officers, freeing them up so they can return to other duties.

The wildfire burned an additional 14 square miles Friday and now has charred an estimated 44 square miles of wooded, mountainous terrain west of Lolo.

The Missoulian reports heavy smoke has settled into valleys. Officials warn of poor air quality.

The fire destroyed two homes and several outbuildings Thursday but no structures burned during the fire's run Friday.

The fire has flared up after burning since at least July 15.

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, August 20th 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT
YELLOWSTONE-FISH

Nonnative fish to be poisoned off in Yellowstone river

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park officials are about to deliberately poison off nonnative fish species in one of the park's major river drainages.

The operation along the upper Gibbon River begins Monday and will include lakes in the river drainage.

Park officials are targeting lake-dwelling grayling as well as rainbow trout and brook trout. They plan to reintroduce native species after the operation is finished.

Trails and campsites in the area will be closed.

MONTANA WILDFIRES

National Guard arrives at fast-growing Montana wildfire

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

LOLO, Mont. (AP) — National Guard troops are now helping out at a rapidly growing wildfire in western Montana.

The 155 soldiers who arrived Saturday will monitor 35 security checkpoints south of Missoula where an evacuation order is in place. The troops will relieve law enforcement officers, freeing them up so they can return to other duties.

The wildfire burned an additional 14 square miles Friday and now has charred an estimated 44 square miles of wooded, mountainous terrain west of Lolo.

The Missoulian reports heavy smoke has settled into valleys. Officials warn of poor air quality.

The fire destroyed two homes and several outbuildings Thursday but no structures burned during the fire's run Friday.

The fire has flared up after burning since at least July 15.

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FORMER LEGISLATOR JAILED

Former Montana lawmaker jailed for court contempt released

(Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former Montana lawmaker accused of political corruption is out of jail after agreeing to release financial documents.

A judge on Tuesday jailed 48-year-old Wesley Prouse, of Shepherd, for contempt of court. Prouse allegedly failed to pay a $59,000 fine for violating campaign finance laws.

Prouse attorney Quentin Rhoades tells the Montana Standard Prouse intends to comply with the court order. Prouse now has a week to release documents showing whether he can pay the fine.

The fine stems from Prouse's acceptance of over $9,000 in illegal and unreported corporate campaign contributions in 2010.

The unreported spending included fliers attacking one of his opponents in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat. Prouse lost in the primary.

He served in the Legislature in the 1990s.

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ECLIPSE-TRIBES

Tribes hope for renewal in solar eclipse; not all will watch

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — American Indian tribes nationwide will be observing the eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways.

Some will ignore Monday's passing of the moon over the sun. Others might watch while praying for an anticipated renewal.

Those in prime viewing spots are welcoming visitors with storytelling, food and celebration.

Many tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life.

Bobbieann Baldwin, a Navajo citizen, says she'll be inside her home with the shades drawn. In Navajo culture, an eclipse is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members are urged not to look.

She says she and her children will be in their living room meditating and reflecting.

The eclipse coincides with the Crow Tribe's annual parade dance, marking the Montana tribe's new year.

CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL-MONTANA

City of Helena begins removing Confederate memorial

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The City of Helena has begun removing a monument to Confederate soldiers that has been in a park in Montana's capital city since 1916.

Calls for the removal of the granite fountain increased after weekend violence, including a death, during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The City Commission ordered its removal on Wednesday.

A handful of people opposed to the removal stood guard through the night and one woman was arrested Friday morning after refusing an officer's order to move away from the fountain.

City Parks and Recreation Director Amy Teegarden says the fountain will initially be stored in a city warehouse.

One man, who did not give his name, says the fountain is not a symbol of racism or hate, but is part of American history that should not be forgotten.

WESTERN WILDFIRES

Oregon wildfire forces evacuations in prime eclipse zone

SISTERS, Ore. (AP) — About 600 residents are under evacuation orders in a prime eclipse-viewing location in Oregon threatened by a wildfire that has closed access to part of a wilderness area and a regional highway.

Fire officials said Saturday another 1,000 residents near the tourist town of Sisters have been told to be ready to leave if necessary.

Crews are expecting a tough day with winds gusting to more than 20 mph.

Some campsites and recreational areas are also shut down due to the 12-square-mile (31-square kilometer) wildfire in the Deschutes National Forest that jumped fire lines Friday.

Officials say the blaze is producing heavy smoke while burning in forests at higher elevations and in sagebrush at lower areas.

The fire started late last week. Its cause is under investigation.

The solar eclipse will occur Monday.


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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