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  • Despite saving lives, air ambulance companies under fire

    Published On: Nov 29 2015 01:34:23 PM MST
    MedStar helicopter takes to skies over Montana
    BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) -

    Despite their lifesaving capabilities, air ambulance companies are under scrutiny in Montana.

    The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1QNSEeZ) that lawmakers in Helena are looking into whether the state might regulate air medical services.

    In April, the Legislature tasked the Economic Affairs Interim Committee to study the air ambulance industry. Lawmakers have heard complaints of people taking emergency flights getting stuck with huge bills because insurance companies aren't covering the total costs.

    Yet air ambulances provide a needed service in rural areas with lots of backcountry, and the cost of flights, pilots, nurses and paramedics is expensive.

  • Advocacy groups in Montana, Idaho sue over forest plan

    Published On: Nov 29 2015 01:35:50 PM MST
    Bitterroot Forest approves timber sale in Darby Ranger District
    KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) -

    Snowmobile clubs and advocacy groups from Montana and Idaho are suing over a U.S. Forest Service plan that bars motorized access in areas of the Kootenai National Forest.

    The forest plan designates 115,000 acres as recommended wilderness areas that eliminate mechanized and motorized means of transport.

    The Daily Inter Lake reports (http://bit.ly/1MISxgV) the lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges the plan fails to follow agency guidelines for recommended wilderness areas and did not allow enough public input before making the decision.

    Kootenai National Forest officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    The plaintiffs in the case are the Ten Lakes Snowmobile Club, Montanans for Multiple Use, Citizens for Balanced Use, the Glen Lake Irrigation District, Backcountry Sled Patriots, the Idaho State Snowmobile Association and the Blueribbon Coalition.

  • 1st large-scale exercise set in military training area

    Published On: Nov 30 2015 06:15:43 AM MST
    F/A-18 Navy Jets

    Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin/Department of Defense

    BISMARCK, N.D. -

    Military airplanes are taking to the skies this week for the first large-scale exercise in a training area over the Northern Plains.
    The exercise in the 35,000-square-mile Powder River Training Complex is Wednesday and Thursday. Bombers, fighter jets and refueling tankers will be practicing maneuvers in the airspace over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.
    The FAA in March approved quadrupling the training airspace, making it the largest over the continental U.S. The move came over the objections of some people in the region who worry about disruptions.
    Ellsworth Air Force Base spokesman Master Sgt. John Barton says this week's exercise won't involve supersonic speeds, so it will be less noisy.

  • 3 Missoula bridges to be replaced or repaired

    Published On: Nov 30 2015 04:50:01 AM MST
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    Officials with the Montana Department of Transportation are working on plans to replace or rehabilitate three Missoula bridges crossing the Clark Fork River.
    The replacement of the Russell Street Bridge is slated for 2017. The replacement is part of a major project to expand the two-lane road to four lanes from West Broadway to Dakota Street.
    The other two bridges, Higgins Avenue and Madison Street, have been identified as structurally deficient in a Missoula Bridges Planning Study.
    MDT engineer, Shane Stack, says funding for the Madison Street Bridge project is set for 2020. Efforts to find money for the Higgins bridge project, which is still in the design process, are underway.

  • Big game hunting season comes to a close

    Published On: Nov 29 2015 11:13:08 PM MST   Updated On: Nov 30 2015 09:07:34 AM MST
    KALISPELL, Mont. -

    Sunday marks the end of Big Game Hunting Season for 2015 in Montana, and above average harvest numbers were reported across the state, especially for elk.

    455 elk have been checked at game stations statewide since the season opened five weeks ago, a number 30 percent above the 10 year average. Hunter numbers are up by more than 1,000 than they were in 2014.

    One of the busiest hunter check stations sits to the side of Highway 2 just outside of Kalispell. There elk, whitetail and mule deer numbers were up across the board.

    Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jessy Coltrane predicted an ample season.

    “The last weekend has been a really great weekend for hunting,” she said.

    Hunters say the recent snowfall has helped boost hunter-take numbers.

    "Having this cold snap right at the end probably had something to do with the movement I saw today,” said Jake Wilson who had been out hunting all weekend. "We saw a lot of animals. We saw mostly doe.”

    A group of doe led him to the spike he was able to bring home Sunday. “It’s nothing huge,” he said. “It will keep meat on the table.”

    "I think a lot of people who were waiting for that bigger buck have been happy,” said Coltrane. She saw a lot of hunters come through with bucks over the weekend.

    Special antlerless elk “shoulder seasons” will begin Monday in four north-central Montana hunting districts. 

  • First Alert Weather: Valley inversions remain strong

    Published On: Nov 30 2015 07:30:22 AM MST   Updated On: Nov 30 2015 07:38:22 AM MST

    Valley inversions will continue to impact areas of western Montana today. Temperatures remain cold with highs only reaching into teens and low 20s.

  • First Alert Weather: Cold start to the week

    Published On: Nov 29 2015 05:58:12 PM MST

    It will be another cold morning to start the first day back to work after Thanksgiving.