Chessman reservoir injunction denied
A federal judge has denied the request of two conservation groups to stop the Red Mountain Flume/Chessman Reservoir timber project.
Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula issued the ruling on Wednesday denying the Native Ecosystems Council and Montana Ecosystem Defense Council's preliminary injunction. The councils sued the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the decision to log 300 acres and build fuel breaks on 158 acres near Chessman Reservoir and the Red Mountain Flume south of Helena.
The lawsuit claims that the project will impact wildlife, including endangered species, that the chance of wildfire in a specific location is low and that the agencies failed to analyze the cumulative impacts from other logging in the area.
In the denial, Christensen said the councils are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their case.
"This is a case where the public interest factor is front and center," Christensen wrote. He continued "Plaintiffs fail to demonstrate that any such species will be measurably harmed by project activities. On the other hand, the threat of wildfire, a constant element of Montana life, is real."
Federal, state and Helena city officials have said the project is necessary to protect the water supply from Ten Mile Creek, which services 30,000 residents of Helena.
Police report cars rifled
Helena police are investigating a number of complaints about unauthorized people entering cars. Three complaints all reported that some time Wednesday morning, someone had entered their vehicle. In one case, some loose change was taken. Nothing was missing in the other two cars, but the contents had been disturbed.
Lt Tory Keltner of the Helena Police says there was a common denominators in the cases:
The cars were all unlocked.
The reports were from 513 State Street, 401 S Davis and 21 S Alta.
Historical Society expansion project receives grant
The Montana Historical Society has received a $600 thousand dollar grant for the expansion of the Society and Museum. The Greater Montana Foundation was founded by legendary Montana broadcaster Ed Craney, and it is giving the money for the Montana Heritage Center, the expansion planned near the State Capital.
Montana Historical Society Director Bruce Whittenberg says the donation will help put more of the collections of the Society out in the open. "Right now the museum is able to exhibit about 8% of what's in the collection.
Whittenberg says that the State Legislature will need to approve funding. Governor Steve Bullock already supports the expansion project.
County allows open burning
After consulting with the fire Cordinator, fire behavior analyst and other stakeholders. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says he is opening up the debris burning for Lewis and Clark County. The Sheriff adds " We do caution you to use good judgment as a wild fire can still start. Please check the weather, and have fire fighting material close at hand. If your fire escapes, you are responsible for the suppression cost."
Dutton continues, "We have received enough moisture to put the fire danger at a lower level, making it safe to burn. If fire dangers rises, we will again reevaluate the fire danger.
Clancy man denies charges in fatal crash
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A 22-year-old Clancy man has pleaded not guilty to felony vehicular homicide for a fatal crash on Interstate 15 near Montana City.
Cal Erickson Mullen appeared in District Court in Boulder Wednesday, where he also denied a felony and two misdemeanor counts of negligent vehicular assault.
Prosecutors allege Mullen had a blood-alcohol level of 0.265 early on June 14 when he crashed his pickup truck. Court records say he left the truck on the highway and didn't warn oncoming vehicles or report the accident.
A vehicle driven by 42-year-old Jason West struck the wrecked pickup. The collision killed 38-year-old Wyman Hewitt and caused severe injuries to 36-year-old Anne Boster, both passengers in West's vehicle.
West also faces three counts of criminal endangerment after investigators determined he could have avoided the crash.
Missing Lame Deer girl found safe
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A 14-year-old Lame Deer girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Wednesday, has been recovered and is safe.
Northern Cheyenne law enforcement asked the state Department of Justice to cancel the alert at 3 a.m. Thursday.
Officials were searching for Mariah Eileen Akeen, believing she had been kidnapped.
State officials said Akeen was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck without license plates that was stopped at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Officers were arresting the driver when another passenger, 19-year-old Zachary Whiteman, jumped into the driver's seat and left with Akeen still inside.
Tribal law enforcement didn't release any information about where Akeen was found.