Canadian Wildfires Cause Smoke Across Montana and States
An Air Quality Alert has been issued for most of Montana Counties, enormous wildfires continue to burn over western Canada. A cool front shifted the winds around Montana to the north earlier in the week. The shift in wind direction continues to funnel smoke across much of the state.
Avoid going outside and limit extended physical activities. Stay indoors as much as possible if you have raspatory sensitivities.
The northerly flow is expected to turn more westerly on Friday as a ridge builds. This will begin to scour out the smoke around the state. The wind protected valleys of western Montana will tend to hold onto the smoke a little longer than the eastern side of the state that should mix out more quickly. By Saturday morning, much of the state should see significant improvements in air quality.
In the province of Alberta, Canada 1,282,477 acres have burned and the government has declared a provincial state of emergency due to the hot, dry conditions and evacuations.
Submitted by Montana Department of Environmental Quality
MT FWP Specialty License Mistake
After a closer review of the licenses that were mistakenly over-drawn last week, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is going to allow the drawing to stand for one bighorn sheep license type and two moose license types. For sheep license 482-20 the quota was supposed to be 15, but FWP mistakenly allocated 20 licenses to hunters. For moose licenses 270-50 and 341-50 the quota was two, but FWP mistakenly allocated three. In these three circumstances, the number of licenses drawn are within the quotas set by the Fish and Wildlife Commission and moving forward with the extra licenses will have no biological impact.
“With these three instances, the extra licenses will have no impact on the population,” said Ken McDonald, chief of the Wildlife Division at FWP. “In the remaining circumstances where licenses were over-drawn, awarding additional licenses could detrimentally affect populations.” Background: As announced by FWP Tuesday, May 17, during the moose, sheep, goat and bison drawings, the wrong quotas were entered into the system for four sheep licenses and three moose licenses. In these four remaining circumstances, FWP will determine who was mistakenly awarded licenses beyond the appropriate quota, and those hunters will not receive a license. These licenses are: 482-30: drew 40 applicants, but the quota was five (sheep). 622-30: drew 20 applicants, but the quota was 10 (sheep). 680-31: drew 40 applicants, but the quota was 30 (sheep). 332-00: drew eight applicants, but the quota was six (moose).
Submitted by MT Fish Wildlife & Parks
USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Montana is accepting applications for the Organic Transition Initiative. This initiative dedicates financial and technical assistance to a new organic management standard. NRCS accepts applications year-round, but applications for the current funding cycle must be submitted by June 8, 2023.
NRCS will dedicate $70 million nationwide to assist producers with a new organic management standard under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS will help producers adopt the new organic management standard, which allows flexibility for producers to get the assistance and support they need. It supports conservation practices required for organic certification.
Higher payment rates and other options are available for underserved producers including socially disadvantaged, beginning, veteran, and limited resource farmers and ranchers.
Eligible producers include farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and other producers beginning or in the process of transitioning to organic certification.
To apply, and for more information on EQIP, please contact your local NRCS Field Office. You can also get more information about the Organic Transition Initiative at farmers.gov/organic.
Submitted by Tasha Gibby
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Governor Gianforte Bans Social Media TikTok Application in MT
To protect Montanans’ personal, private, and sensitive data and information from intelligence gathering by the Chinese Communist Party, Governor Greg Gianforte banned TikTok from operating in Montana. The governor also directed the state’s chief information officer and executive agency directors to prohibit the use of all social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state equipment and for state business in Montana. “The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The governor signed Senate Bill 419, making Montana the first state in the nation to ban TikTok and prohibit mobile application stores from offering TikTok within the state. Penalties will be enforced by the Montana Department of Justice. Sen. Shelley Vance, R-Belgrade, sponsored Senate Bill 419. “I appreciate Attorney General Knudsen and Senator Vance for their partnership on this important measure and for advancing our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance,” Gov. Gianforte added. Last month, the governor proposed amendments to the bill to expand the ban to all social media applications that collect and provide users’ personal information or data to a foreign adversary, or a person or entity located within a country designated as a foreign adversary. The legislature gaveled out before lawmakers could consider the governor’s amendments.
In line with his proposed amendments to the bill and building upon his December ban of TikTok for state business, Governor Gianforte today prohibited the use of all social media applications that collect and provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices, while connected to the state network, or for state business in Montana. “One of government’s chief responsibilities is to keep its citizens – and their personal, private, sensitive information and data – safe and secure. Foreign adversaries’ collection and use of Montanans’ personal information and data from social media applications infringe on Montanans’ constitutionally guaranteed individual right to privacy,” Gov. Gianforte wrote in a memo to Montana’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Gilbertson and executive agency directors.
The governor continued, “Given concerns about the use of such social media applications on state devices to the security of our state and Montanans’ sensitive data, effective June 1, no executive agency, board, commission, or other executive branch entity, official, or employee of the State of Montana shall download or access social media applications that provide personal information or data to foreign adversaries on government-issued devices or while connected to the state network.” The memo also prohibits any third-party firms conducting business for or on behalf of the State of Montana from using applications with ties to foreign adversaries. Gov. Gianforte concluded, “Together, we will defend the State of Montana and its people against threats to our security, privacy, and way of life.” The governor’s action comes as ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is pushing other applications in the United States, including Lemon8 and CapCut.
Submitted by Office of the Governor
Outdated Ordinance in Libby Needs Reformed
Hundreds of residents and visitors of Libby are annually breaking an ordinance they’ve probably never heard of. Have you ever let someone stay in a camper on your property? Friends or family visiting from out of town for “Ignite the Nights”. Wood Carver staying in front of the Mint Bar for a city endorsed world renowned carving contest? If so, you’ve broken city ordinance 14.28.120 auto trailers on private property. This ordinance was created in 1966 and is now out of date and it fails to reflect modern life.
This ordinance is meant to define “trailer parks and trailers”. But its scope has gone far beyond that. As a piece of the ordinance reads “It is unlawful for the owner, occupant, or other person having charge or control of any lot or tract of land in the city, other than a trailer park as here undefined, to permanent persons to occupy for living or sleeping quarters or business purposes any trailer park there on.” This is simply a bad law.
It’s clear the intentions of this ordinance are designed to keep people from parking a bunch of trailer houses or campers on their property for permanent living, this law unfortunately doesn’t address the issue that travel campers are often temporarily living places now, for guests and visitors for a limited time window. It also steps well over the line of what you can do on your own property with your own property.
It is time this ordinance is repealed or modified to separate trailer parks inside of city limits, and people staying in a travel trailer for a limited time. I was raised in Libby and still return to my property every year for several weeks in the summer. I received a ticket from the city for somehow violating this ordinance in 2021, while I wasn’t even in the state. I’m the only person we can find that has been cited for this ordinance, since its creation. I ask for the city council and mayor to act now before summer arrives, and hundreds of guests come to our city unknowingly breaking outdated ordinances. I encourage all city residents to contact the city council and the mayor, to ask for this ordinance to be modified and or removed from city code.
Submitted By Sally Fuchs