Bullock’s bison plan draws foes and fans

By LILLY BROGGER/Montana State News

Ranchers and environmentalists have long been at odds over bison management and a recent ruling has revitalized concern. Bison will now be allowed to roam in the area surrounding Yellowstone National Park in Montana year-round.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued the statement in November, which has created strong reactions. While many environmental groups are excited about the decision, ranchers in the area and across the state, strongly oppose the decision due to concerns over brucellosis.

Prior to the decision, bison in Montana were tolerated in specified areas surrounding the park. Bullock’s ruling expands this area. According to Bullock’s decision notice, bison will be allowed year-round access to Horse Butte.

Continue reading “Bullock’s bison plan draws foes and fans”

Campus construction stirs open space concerns

By ZACH FENT/Montana State News-

Much to the concern of students, plans are now being made for the design and construction of a new dining facility on the Montana State University campus.

The building will result in the destruction of green space north of the Chemistry-Biochemistry Building. A vote of 12-1 by the University Facilities Planning Board on Tuesday, Jan. 26, approved the location based on cost efficiency and community safety.

Students are concerned that structural accommodations for the ever-growing student body will lead to future elimination of green space on campus.

“We have such outdoor minded students,” said Justin Jefferson, a senior from the Department of Microbiology, “… almost everybody is out sitting on the grass with friends in between classes, eating lunch outside, throwing a Frisbee or playing with their dog. I really hate to see it go.”

Jefferson is not the only one concerned about the new dining hall plans. While some are upset that the planning committee chose to take up more open area, others are increasingly interested in the efficient use of school property.

Continue reading “Campus construction stirs open space concerns”

Local hunters oppose Oregon occupation

By ANSON NYGAARD/Montana State News

Montana based conservation group Backcountry Hunters and Anglers responds in opposition to Malheur National Wildlife Preserve’s occupation, in defense of public land, water and sportsmen’s access.

At the outset of the armed occupation, BHA, headquartered in Missoula, released a statement on their website asserting, “The actions being perpetrated by extremists in Oregon are the misguided actions of a fringe element – and should be condemned by sportsmen and all citizens in the strongest terms.” The underlying theme was to speak up for those sportsmen and women who sincerely value the keeping of, “public lands in public hands.”

In the same statement, BHA President and CEO Land Tawney challenged the legitimacy of the occupation’s leadership, calling them, “out of state radicals,” and in particular Ammon Bundy, clarifying that he is the, “son of anti-government extremist Cliven Bundy of Nevada.”

Continue reading “Local hunters oppose Oregon occupation”

Locals dubious about El Nino effects on farming

By TYLER WORTHEN/Montana State News

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the impact of El Niño is supposed to bring a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase to Montana.

But temperatures aside, snowfall has been plentiful

Local farmer, Cliff Schutter, said the snowpack this year as looking very hopeful for crop growth. With the snowpack at 96 percent of the entire winter average already this year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, Schutter is right.

Continue reading “Locals dubious about El Nino effects on farming”

Green commuting alternatives promoted locally

By NICOLE SMITH/Montana State News

Why drive? In Bozeman, the options are plentiful when it comes to getting around. The alternatives include riding the Streamline bus, riding a bike, or using unconventional fuels.

The Streamline Bus, provided by MSU, is free to the public and has four routes with stops in Bozeman, Belgrade, Four Corners and even Livingston.

According to the American Public Transportation Association’s transit calculator, taking the Streamline instead of driving just 10 miles to work or school every day could save over $400 each year.

Biking in Bozeman is also easy, good for your health and can save you money in more ways than one way. Besides skipping the cost of filling up a tank of gas, biking can result in discounts at many Bozeman businesses.

Bozeman is a part of Bicycle Benefits, a program that provides discounts to people who commute by bicycle. Continue reading “Green commuting alternatives promoted locally”

Little call for more regs in the wake of oil spill

By WILLIAM NEVILLE/Montana State News

An oil spill near Glendive that dumped some 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River will not likely result stricter regulations on pipelines, according to industry watchers.

On Jan. 17, the Bridger pipeline, carrying primarily crude oil from the Bakken oil fields, ruptured at a Yellowstone River crossing. It leaked up to 1,200 barrels of crude oil into the river near Glendive. The spill had a drastic effect on Glendive’s water supply. Residents were told not to drink tap water until environmental agencies ensured the water was safe enough to consume.

Bill Neville, a civil engineer who has worked on several oil pipelines said, “River crossings are always bad because when vector drilling is conducted in order to construct the river crossing, it’s imperative for the pipelines to be installed flat, but there is always an angle in the pipeline. Pressure and angles aren’t good friends, and bursts can happen at any time, with little to no warning. It’s fluid thermodynamics.” Continue reading “Little call for more regs in the wake of oil spill”

Watercourse has kids doing adult science

By DANIELLE MARTIN/Montana State News

Stephanie McGinnis has a large, faded blue folder on her desk. It is held together with a rubber band and stuffed with an assortment of papers, CDs and packets.

Students in the Swan Valley take water samples for a Montana Watercourse project (photo courtesy of Diann Ericson.
Students in the Swan Valley take water samples for a Montana Watercourse project (photo courtesy of Diann Ericson.

As insignificant as it looks, this folder represents ten years of water quality data for the Swan Valley, one of the largest and most continuous collections in the state. Even more interesting, the data was collected entirely by elementary and middle school students.

McGinnis is the education and outreach coordinator for Montana Watercourse in Bozeman. This grant-funded nonprofit coordinates the Volunteer Water Monitoring program (VWM), a program that trains participants to routinely perform water quality testing in their area. According to the training manual, this is so that “they may make informed decisions regarding local water quality issues.”

“It’s really important for these young students to get out there and collect the data, [and to] understand what water quality is, [and] why water quality is important,” said McGinnis.           Continue reading “Watercourse has kids doing adult science”

Cause of declining sturgeon numbers discovered

By KAITLYN NICHOLAS and MORGAN SOLOMON/Montana State News

For over 20 years the Pallid Sturgeon has been listed as an endangered species, but until this year no one knew why.

The Pallid Sturgeon is a prehistoric fish considered to be part of a 60 million year old species. Today the Pallid Sturgeon is a native of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.

An act allowing dams to be built on the Missouri river was passed in 1940.  Soon baby Pallid Sturgeon were no longer present in the water surrounding the dams. Researchers suggested the shorter stretches of river created by the dams were causing the death of the fish, but no one understood why.

Chris Guy, a professor of fisheries science at Montana State University, and a team of researchers set out to investigate the disappearance.

They found that when the fish spawn and their eggs hatch the larva float 310 miles downstream to the spawning area before settling to the bottom of the river. However, dams are less than 310 miles apart, causing the larva to get caught in the headwaters of the dams and reservoirs. Continue reading “Cause of declining sturgeon numbers discovered”

Canadian grizzly expert to speak locally

By CLARK MOORMAN/Montana State News

Grizzly bears have always inspired fear and awe and their management in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem has been the subject of much local debate. In late April, Bozeman will have the chance to meet with an expert on the subject.

Naturalist, author and bear expert Charlie Russell will be speaking about our negative image of grizzly bears – and why he feels it is undeserved – on Friday, April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of the Rockies. The free event is open to the public and is being put on by the Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS).

“[Russell] thinks we’ve been interacting with bears wrong,” said Steve Esbaugh, director of MOSS. “He’s a big advocate of a new understanding of bear/human interactions.”

Russell has spent the last 50 years studying bears in their habitat and  in captivity in Russia and Canada, and has had multiple books published, in addition to being featured in bear documentaries for the BBC and PBS.
Continue reading “Canadian grizzly expert to speak locally”

Snowpack-fire season connection questioned

By MAKENZIE JOHNSON and JENNIFER WEBSTER/Montana State News

The conventional wisdom has been to equate heavy winter snowpack with a relatively mild fire season in the ensuing summer months.

But this may not be the case.

“Winter snowpack and even winter precipitation levels do not have a direct correlation to severity or length of fire season in the Northern Rockies,” said Ted Mead, the chief of the Fire and Aviation Management Bureau.

The 2012 season had the most fires and acreage burned with 410 fires and 523,231 acres. That year had the most acreage burned in Montana since 1910, according to the Billings Gazette. In June 2012, Bozeman saw .72 inches of precipitation, according to Weather Warehouse. The previous months were fairly normal, indicating that the early spring and winter precipitation was not a factor in the number or intensity of fires during 2012. Continue reading “Snowpack-fire season connection questioned”

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