Friday, September 22, 2017
Breaking News
Home » Matthew Frank

Matthew Frank

Plum Creek Backs Off Road Easements in Montana

Plum Creek CEO Rick Holley told Missoula County Commissioners in a letter sent today that the timber company is backing off a controversial proposal to allow logging roads on public lands to be used for any purpose, including development. The letter comes just after Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey vowed to push the easements through before Barack Obama, who said he would oppose the proposal, takes office January 20. In the letter, Holley writes, "Although we continue to believe that the easement amendment would be beneficial to the general public, given the the lack of receptivity, we have decided not to go forward with the amendment." Missoula County had been very vocal in its opposition to the easement amendment and the letter was welcome news to Deputy Missoula County Attorney James McCubbin who called the move, "commendable." "We appreciate that they're reacting to the public input they've received," McCubbin said. Click here for a PDF of the letter and stay tuned as we update the story. The easement amendment was privately negotiated between Plum Creek and the Forest Service to clarify the decades-old easements and ensure Plum Creek access across Forest Service for purposes besides resource extraction, namely to access residences. Residential development has become a big part of Plum Creek’s business as the timber industry flounders from the effects of the housing downturn. In October, the Government Accountability Office announced it was investigating the deal. Still this last weekend, the Washington Post reported Rey was ready to go forward with the plan.

Read More »

Winter’s About to Blow In

The Northern Rockies' extended autumn is about to be buried in snow. The National Weather Service forecasts a strong winter storm and an arctic cold front moving into the region this weekend, potentially dumping up to 20 inches of snow in some spots and driving temperatures well below zero. High winds, too.

Read More »

Missoula Marijuana Arrests Up, Report Suggests

A report released Wednesday suggests a jump in marijuana offenses in Missoula County compared to last year, despite the passage in 2006 of Initiative 2, the "marijuana initiative," which made adult misdemeanor marijuana offenses the County's lowest law enforcement priority. But the initiative never gave any direction to municipal government, says the Chief of Police. "They're blatantly accusing the city of a rising emphasis on marijuana, which is absolutely not true," he said.

Read More »

Western Ski Resorts Improve Environmental Marks

Report cards are out, and Western ski resorts' environmental grades are up. The Ski Area Citizens' Coalition annual Ski Area Environmental Scorecard shows that energy retrofits, more efficient snowmaking equipment, increased use of biodiesel, and tapping renewable energy resources have contributed to improved environmental marks for ski resorts across the West.

Read More »

On Growth Management, Montana Voters Balk

A few Western Montana races and measures on Tuesday's ballots were, when boiled down, all about growth -- how (if at all) to plan for it and protect land from it. On the whole, proponents of growth management didn't have a good night. In Ravalli County, voters repealed the Growth Policy, thereby blocking any planning and zoning regulations, and reelected Republican County Commissioner Greg Chilcott over John Meakin, a pro-streamside setback, pro-Growth Policy, pro-zoning Democrat. In Flathead County, voters shot down a $10 million open space bond, and voted overwhelmingly in favor of pro-development, self-described property rights champion County Commissioner-elect Jim Dupont.

Read More »

Missoula County Elects New County Comissioner, Picks A Few New Legislators

Missoula County voters overwhelmingly supported Sen. Barack Obama for president, reelected Democrat Max Baucus to the U.S. Senate and Republican Denny Rehberg to the U.S. House while they chose several new legislators, rejected an emergency operations bonds and replaced Republican County Comissioner Larry Anderson with Democrat Michele Landquist. Also, according to unofficial results, Seeley Lake residents approved creating a resort area there and passed a resort tax.

Read More »

Trauner Trounced in Wyoming

For a while there it looked like Wyoming Democrat Gary Trauner might win the House seat once held by Dick Cheney, but it proved too tall a task in the Cowboy State, as Republican Cynthia Lummis was winning by 10 percentage points with 98 percent reporting late Tuesday night, 53 percent to 43 percent.

Read More »

Montanan Protests Obama with Manure

Only in Montana. A Whitehall man parked a load of manure across the street from the Democratic campaign office there to protest presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Read More »

Voter Suppression Text Messages Circulate Around Montana

The Secretary of State's Office office has received a few complaints about text messages encouraging individuals to wait and vote on Wednesday because of long lines at polling places today.

Read More »

Will Herbert Play Spoiler in Wyoming House Race?

On the eve of Tuesday's general election, it appears that a Libertarian may again be poised to play the spoiler's role in 2008. No stranger to running for office, W. David Herbert, of Riverton, ran against Michael Enzi and Kathy Karpan in 1996, competing to fill the seat of retiring Senator Alan Simpson. That means Herbert is also no stranger to defeat. This year, too, Herbert concedes that his chances of winning outright on November 4 are "not realistic at all." Herbert says his main reason for running is "to keep my party on the ballot."

Read More »