Articles written by Amanda Eggert

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  • Committee votes on four wolf bills as legislative deadline nears

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Mar 8, 2023

    The House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee considers snares, trapping dates, reimbursement and hunting near national parks. The House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee voted on four wolf-related measures Feb. 28 ahead of a key legislative deadline. The committee narrowly approved two bills that would codify wolf trapping season dates and trappers’ ability to use neck snares in state law. The committee also tabled two wildlife advocate-backed measures related to a controversial hunter and trapper reimbursement program and the hunting and t... Full story

  • 'Firestorm' of comments leads FWP to rethink elk proposals

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Dec 23, 2021

    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has backpedaled on a controversial elk management strategy after a public response that FWP Director Henry “Hank” Worsech described as a “firestorm.” Even after the department backed away from the most contentious proposal it had planned to present to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, public commenters continued to raise concerns at yesterday’s commission meeting in Helena about a process they said has been rushed and favors large landowners and brings the state closer to privatizing wildlife. In response... Full story

  • Montana petitions USFWS to delist NCDE grizzlies

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Dec 9, 2021

    HELENA - Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office announced Monday, Dec. 6 that the state is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, citing robust population counts and touting the state’s ability to independently manage Montana’s grizzly bears, which have been federally protected since 1975. “We worked on grizzly bear recovery for decades. We were successful and switched to a focus on conflict management years ago,” FWP Director Hank Worsech... Full story

  • Outdoor recreation added $2.2 billion to Montana economy

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Nov 25, 2021

    While Montana’s outdoor recreation economy wasn’t spared the pandemic-spurred losses that swept the globe in 2020, it remained a cornerstone of the state’s economy, according to a report released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Outdoor recreation accounted for 4.3% of Montana’s GDP last year — a higher percentage than any other state. The next closest was Hawaii, with 3.8%. The report also found that Montana is toward the head of the pack for employment in the outdoor rec sector in 2020, with employment topping 26,000 jobs, or... Full story

  • Fish and Wildlife Commission pares down wolf trapping season, shrinks areas for snaring

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Nov 4, 2021

    The geographic and temporal sweep of Montana’s wolf trapping and snaring regulations shrank Thursday when the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a measure that brings those regulations into alignment with legal settlements governing management of grizzly bears and Canada lynx, two federally protected species that share habitat with wolves. Wolf trapping areas that overlap with grizzly habitat will now have a default season start date of Dec. 31, when grizzly bears will be in their dens. The commission also approved a regulation c... Full story

  • Betting on biochar in Bonner

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Oct 21, 2021

    On a 159-acre working forestland east of Bonner, Dave Atkins' personal and professional interests overlap. There, in a stand of dry conifer forest populated with ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and the occasional western larch, Atkins tinkers with forest management techniques he's learned over the past half-century in an effort to better equip his property for the changing conditions of the next 100 years. Now retired, Atkins had a long career with the U.S. Forest Service that spanned several... Full story

  • Gianforte sets wildfire priorities for 'above-normal' season

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Jun 24, 2021

    In a wildfire briefing at the state Capitol attended by more than a dozen land use and wildfire response agency leaders, Gov. Greg Gianforte said he wants to double the number of treated acres on Montana’s forests and pressured the National Park Service to extinguish all wildfire starts on park service lands. Gianforte said the state is undergoing a forest health crisis due to insect outbreaks, disease and heavy fuel loading that leads to an elevated wildfire risk. Increasing treatment — forest management strategies including some mix of thi...

  • Telemedicine and bridging Montana's digital divide

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Sep 3, 2020

    When COVID-19 safety protocols shifted whole sectors of the health care industry from in-person visits to a telehealth model, Arjun and Hannah Verma watched their parents - a pulmonologist and a cardiologist - fret about some of their elderly patients who were unprepared for the switch. The elder Vermas were concerned that their patients who didn't own camera-enabled devices or know how to use videoconferencing platforms would be forced to forgo critical care. Arjun and Hannah, who live in...

  • Private-sector approaches to a public problem

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Aug 22, 2019

    In this three-part series, Montana Free Press examines how federal land management agencies have approached wildfire in the past and highlights public sector efforts to make communities more resilient through land-use planning, strategic building processes and targeted fuel reduction treatments. In Part 3, we explore a private sector development: the growth of private firefighting companies deployed by insurance companies to protect properties from loss by wildfire. BOZEMAN - Last November,...

  • Building fire-adapted communities through land-use planning

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Aug 8, 2019

    EDITOR'S NOTE: In this three-part series, Montana Free Press examines how federal land management agencies have approached wildfire in the past and highlights key public and private sector developments that could change how we engage with it in the future. Previously: Part 1 – The evolution of wildfire suppression. BOZEMAN - Ray Rasker, who has researched wildfire for more than a decade as the executive director of Bozeman-based nonprofit Headwaters Economics, makes a bold claim about w...

  • The evolution of wildfire suppression

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Aug 1, 2019

    Editor's Note: As the West enters another fire season, where, how and why federal land management agencies decide to suppress wildfires and implement fuel reduction projects will be hotly debated as residents, environmentalists, agency heads and politicians tangle with how much, if any, thinning, logging and prescribed burning is appropriate to mitigate fire risk. Three trends play an important role in the discussion: hotter and drier conditions wrought by climate change, which have led to an...