Multiple bumble bee species found in Montana

By MICHELLE BURGER/Montana State News

Researchers once thought the bumble bee population was on the rise in Montana, until the discovery of many new species. Researchers at Montana State University have classified over 28 species in Montana of the 250 found worldwide over the past five years. With the help of the Agriculture and Ecology Departments at MSU, a team of three researchers presented a paper about their findings in a popular science journal.

This paper, published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, AESA, describes how the growing population of bumble bees in Montana is now accounting for the widespread number of species of bumble bees currently present in our ecosystem.

Today, bumblebees and honeybees are mistaken for one another all the time. The honeybee is responsible for most of the honey made today. Bumble bees are more important regarding the pollination of wild plants like blueberries and other berries found in Montana. Continue reading “Multiple bumble bee species found in Montana”

Campaign launched against mussel invasion

By VIRGINIA HOLST/Montana State News

Canyon Ferry and Tiber reservoirs are being infested by mussels, and the state is doing everything it can to prevent them from spreading to other bodies of water.

Aquatic invasive mussels first arrived in Montana in 2016. Other states that have been infested by these pests have incurred millions of dollars in damage to facilities, as well as issues with water and other species health, according to the Montana Mussel Response Website.

“They can change the ecosystem in ways you don’t want the ecosystem to change,” according to Dan Malloy, a research scientist who studies the invasive species. These mussels feed on plankton, a major food source for sportfish, which may be problematic in Montana as the economy largely relies on fishermen.

Boaters and other recreational water users inadvertently transport Zebra and Quagga Mussel larva nearly every time that they don’t properly clean their equipment. Therefore, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) is doing everything it can to prevent the dangers that tag along with these tag-alongs. Continue reading “Campaign launched against mussel invasion”

Teacher embraces writing to ‘freak out less’

By CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News 

Walking the famous John Muir Trail in the fantastic Sierra Nevada mountain range, Mark Schlenz cannot help but consider the beauty of it all. “I like to write about nature and ecology and try to put things in terms that can influence people to have more positive values towards preserving stuff like this,” he says.

Schelnz’s book on the hike, “Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail” is a microcosm of his beliefs about the world as well as his life story: chill out more and freak out less.

“Chill out! Keep writing! Write more, freak out less,” Schelnz says, while laughing at the thought of telling his younger self these words of advice, albeit with a hint of seriousness. “And you know what they say, ‘what goes around comes around,’ and to know it keeps going around and it keeps coming around.”

Despite his love of beautiful nature hikes, playing a variety of string instruments, Chinese martial arts and yoga, as well as writing music and about anything that comes to his mind, Schlenz, who has a doctoral degree in English, carries an unmistakable sense of urgency and motivation. As a conscientious objector and a firm Donald Trump critic, Schelnz is driven to use his vast knowledge of writing and discourse to teach a younger generation the right way to communicate and learn from each other. Continue reading “Teacher embraces writing to ‘freak out less’”

Berkeley Pit on track to overflow soon

By EMILY SCHABACKER/ Montana State News 

Toxic water levels approach maximum capacity in Butte’s Berkeley Pit, potentially threatening the city’s groundwater system by 2023. Montana’s environmental advocacy groups have started looking for clean up or containment methods for the abandoned copper mine.

After the mine closed in 1982, rain and groundwater flooded underground shafts, forcing contaminated water to accumulate in the pit. The acidic pond stretches one mile long by a half mile wide and reaches down more than 1,700 feet.

Current water levels reach 5,336 feet above sea level, 74 feet below maximum capacity as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Act, according to the website Pit Watch: Berkeley Pit News and Info. Continue reading “Berkeley Pit on track to overflow soon”

Hyalite shooting restrictions get mixed reviews

By ROSS SELLERS/Montana State News

Any shooter hoping to get some target practice in at Hyalite Canyon can expect a $100 fine due to the recent shooting restriction put in place by the Custer Gallatin National Forest Service, according to Lisa Stoeffler, Bozeman District ranger.

Stoeffler said the primary reason for this closure is safety, citing the density of recreation sites (475 developed sites, 185 dispersed camping sites, 70 miles of trail and 65 miles of road) in the Hyalite drainage. Stoeffler said it was almost “impossible to get a safe distance between recreational shooters and the rest of the recreating public.”

According to a press release issued March 8 by the Custer Gallatin National Forest Service, the restriction for target shooting in the Hyalite Canyon will go into effect on April 20, and will remain in place throughout the year, but it will not affect hunting in Hyalite.

Stoeffler also said, “the response to the shooting closure has been overwhelmingly supportive,” because many believed that there is too much public use in Hyalite for shooting to be safe.

Continue reading “Hyalite shooting restrictions get mixed reviews”

Federal agency plans to lift grizzly protections

By MIKAL OVERTURF/Montana State News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially proposed to remove Yellowstone grizzly bears from the Federal Endangered Species list on March third of this year. The only grizzly bears affected by the delisting will be bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, all other U.S. grizzlies will remain on the list.

Since the mid 1990s, the Yellowstone bear population has grown 4  rcent per year, according to the Interagency Grizzly Bear website.

Yellowstone grizzly bears were previously delisted in 2007. In 2009, after concerns arose about their dwindling food supply, they were listed again. However, according to the Yellowstone National Park website, grizzly numbers in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have grown from 136 in 1975 to about 700 today.

One issue garnering a lot of attention online is what type of hunting policies will be implemented. According to the National Park Service website, all hunting laws would be determined by state agencies. However, hunting Grizzly Bears will always remain illegal within Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

Continue reading “Federal agency plans to lift grizzly protections”

Food waste a global, and local, problem

By SARA SAXTON/Montana State News

There are 800 million people around the world suffering from hunger, according to National Geographic.

We could feed those 800 million starving people more than twice with the excess 2.9 trillion pounds of food waste we produce annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

During the month of April there will be four free showings of a movie called “Just Eat It” in various places in Bozeman. This movie talks about how humans waste 40 percent of what we grow and raise.

The producers of this movie want to know if the food that is being wasted in eatable and if it can be salvaged. A lot of the food that is being wasted is food that grocery stores consider to be crooked and deformed.

Food waste is not only happening in other parts of the world,.It’s also happening in Bozeman.

Continue reading “Food waste a global, and local, problem”

Area floodplain maps being updated

By LILLY BROGGER/Montana State News

With multiple major bodies of water running through the Gallatin Valley, flooding is always a concern. In the winter, ice jams often cause homeowners to worry. In the spring, runoff can cause rivers and streams to swell to dangerous levels.

Understanding the floodplain is vital for keeping homes, roads and families safe; however, the maps of the floodplain are over 30 years old. The city of Bozeman, Gallatin County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) are currently attempting to update these maps. Changing the floodplain maps could affect insurance, city restrictions on building and lenders financing homes.

The bodies of water these maps concern are the West Gallatin River, Bozeman Creek, Mathew Bird Creek, Nash Spring Creek, Flat Creek, Figgins Creek and the Mill Ditch Diversion.

A public open house was held at the Bozeman City Hall on Thursday, April 7, to discuss the issue for residents along Bozeman Creek. The floodplain map for this area was created in 1974, a study was done in 1979 to better understand the floodplain and a revised version was put into place in 1985. It has not been revised since.

Continue reading “Area floodplain maps being updated”

Hyalite off limits during annual spring closure

By ALEXANDRA DUBIN/Montana State News

Hyalite Canyon is one of Bozeman’s most beloved national forest areas. It began its annual spring closure cleanup on April 1 and will run through May 15.

The gates at the mouth of the canyon are closed, which forbids motor vehicles access.

During the annual spring closure, the roads will be thawing out and cannot handle motorized vehicles. It can cause cracking in the pavement and create potholes, according to the Forest Service.

With higher elevation in a location, the later in the season a gate will remain closed according to Wendy Urie, the Recreation Program Manager of Bozeman’s’ Ranger District.

“It’s still really snowy in Hyalite. People see it’s 70 degrees in town, grass is green and Hyalite still has 3 feet of snow,” said Urie.

The canyon is still open to other forms of transportation such as running, walking and cycling.

“We do get use in other places since many gates are still closed after May 16,” said Urie.

Continue reading “Hyalite off limits during annual spring closure”

Opposition surfaces to Smith River-area mine

By MEGAN AHERN/Montana State News

In December 2015, Canadian company Tintina Resources Inc. applied for a permit from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to build an underground copper mine near Sheep Creek, an important tributary to the Smith River, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The firm’s application is currently undergoing review from the DEQ.

Although Tintina Resources’ spokesperson have insisted that the project will not harm the Smith River, their nonchalance has done little to prevent public outcry from an angry coalition of environmental groups and Montana residents.

In addition to the assessment performed by the DEQ, both concerned citizens and organizations opposing the mine have recruited private consultants and industry experts to analyze the application, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Montana Trout Unlimited Director Bruce Farling explained why his group is among those who have hired independent reviewers.

“They have blown these things repeatedly in the past,” said Farling of the DEQ. “We don’t have a lot of confidence in their ability to get this right.”

Continue reading “Opposition surfaces to Smith River-area mine”

Blog at

Up ↑