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A snowblind eye

Two new lawsuits argue that U.S. wolverines face imminent threats in the face of a warming climate, reduced snowpack and population isolation, and that the federal government downplayed those threats in its October decision to deny protections for the species.

Latest Environmental Reporting

State Supreme Court blocks proposed gold mine near Yellowstone

The ruling — the culmination of a years-long campaign to prevent mining in the Emigrant Gulch area — has far-reaching consequences for other disputed mines in Montana.

The Montana Supreme Court has denied an appeal brought by Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals, effectively voiding its permit to conduct exploratory drilling for gold in a remote area north of Yellowstone National Park, and marking the culmination of a years-long campaign to prevent mining in the Emigrant Gulch area.

Whitebark pine proposed as ‘threatened’

The tree, which grows in higher elevations and poor soil, is a keystone species across 80 million acres of western North America.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Tuesday that the whitebark pine tree, which faces threats from invasive species, climate change and wildfires, be protected with a “threatened” designation under the Endangered Species Act.

Public lands: promises and peril

Campaign pledges to champion Montana’s public lands will be put to the test in 2021. Here’s where you can expect to see the rhetoric hit the road.

As a new slate of elected officials prepare to take office, campaign promises to champion public lands will be put to the test. Here’s what to expect.

MORE ENVIRONMENTAL COVERAGE

Covering coal’s tracks?

A federal coal advisory council that frequently advocates expanding coal production has illegally operated in secret during the Trump administration, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week in Great Falls by the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Jim Jensen stepping down from MEIC

During 35 years as executive director of the Montana Environmental Information Center, Jim Jensen fought — and won — some of the state’s most contentious battles. Now he’s retiring.

Six candidates vie for three Public Service Commission seats

Voters in districts around Missoula, Billings and Bozeman will have the chance this fall to select new leadership for the Montana Public Service Commission, the regulatory body at the center of the state’s energy politics, and an agency that has been rocked over the past year by a series of scandals.

FWS: Wolverines don’t require Endangered Species Act protections

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected Endangered Species Act protections for wolverines, saying the snow-dependent species does not face an imminent threat from a warming climate. The determination walks back a 2013 finding by agency scientists that wolverines are likely to be harmed by a lack of snowpack in many areas that pregnant females…

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MORE ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING

Double bind

Tribal leaders have worked to keep the coronavirus off their reservations because of its deadly impact on Native populations. But careful avoidance of the virus has handcuffed the tribes as they face a devastating fire season.

Lingering concerns

While it’s long been known that smoke can be dangerous when in the thick of it — triggering asthma attacks, cardiac arrests, hospitalizations and more — new research confirmed what public health experts feared: Wildfire haze can have consequences long after it’s gone.

Reading the weather in Bullock vs. Daines

The outcome of Montana’s Senate race will help decide control of the upper chamber of Congress, and both Steve Daines and Steve Bullock are touting their environmental credentials.

New climate plan calls for carbon neutrality by 2050

A council of 44 people appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock spent more than a year developing a climate plan. The council advanced more than 50 recommendations for the state to consider, 40 of which were unanimous.

Bullock, Tester push back on Pendley appointment

A day after Montana Gov. Steve Bullock sued to remove acting Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley from his post, public lands advocates and Montana’s Democratic senator are calling for hearings on Pendley’s nomination to lead a federal agency responsible for managing millions of acres of public lands, saying he is unfit for…

Full-court suppress

Land managers and the general population both are making strides toward appreciating fire’s role in healthy forest ecosystems. But concerns generated by COVID-19 could reverse some of that progress as fire managers in the Northern Rockies prepare for a wildfire response that skews heavily toward suppression.

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