Aug. 20 Regional News Briefs

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Grizzly bear activity closes access to area in Glacier Park

WEST GLACIER (AP) — Glacier National Park has temporarily closed access to the Granite Park area due to grizzly bear activity. The Highline, Loop and Swiftcurrent Trail from Swiftcurrent Pass to Granite Park Chalet were closed as of Sunday evening. The Granite Park backcountry campground was closed to campers arriving Monday. Park staff planned to check on the bears Monday and conduct hazing activities if needed. Park staff who live in the Granite Park area have been monitoring grizzly bears frequenting the area and on Sunday received several reports from visitors of encounters with a bear or bears along the trail within the general area of the campground and the chalet. The park says the bear or bears exhibited behavior consistent with being disturbed and frustrated by human presence.

Montana art historian proposes state flag design changes

MISSOULA (AP) — A University of Montana art historian has called for a new state flag after receiving a top research award. The Missoulian reported Sunday that Hipolito Rafael Chacon announced the idea Thursday to redesign Montana’s identity with a new state flag. Officials say his research received an award last month from the International Congress of Vexillology, a worldwide association of flag researchers. Officials say the design originated from just the seal because Montana troops needed a banner to carry in the Spanish-American War. Officials say the state legislature added the name of the state in 1981. Chacon says a public design competition could be the best way to select a new design. Experts say former historians tried to change the design decades ago, but state officials laughed at the idea.

Missoula County considering inmate farm at jail

MISSOULA (AP) — Missoula County is seeking a $200,000 grant to start a farm that would be staffed by jail inmates. County Commissioner Josh Slotnick is the co-founder of Garden City Harvest, which rents some garden plots, allows people to buy shares of the produce grown in some areas and supports school gardens. He says inmates working in the garden, alongside community volunteers, could build job skills and confidence that could prevent them from returning to jail. Kristen Jordan, director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, says similar community farming programs in California, Minnesota and Connecticut have shown success in reducing recidivism. The Missoulian reports the county is seeking the threeyear grant from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.

Wyoming casino new management has big plans

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — New leaders at a Wyoming tribe’s gambling enterprise say their goal is to return the greatest amount of money possible to the tribe. The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the new leadership team from the Northern Arapaho Tribe announced several changes during a tribal citizens meeting last week. Officials say the decisions will affect the Wind River Hotel & Casino, the Little Wind Casino and 789 Smokeshop and Casino. About 80% of the more than 500 casino staff members are Northern Arapaho Tribe members. The changes concern casino affairs and the employment of longtime advisers. A tribal general council meeting following the announcement expressed support for Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter and new CEO Brian Van Enkenvoort. Van Enkenvoort says future staffing levels will be determined by tribal leadership.

Residents allowed to return to homes near Wyoming wildfire

PINEDALE, Wyo. (AP) — Evacuation orders have been lifted for residences near a wildfire in west-central Wyoming. The fire on Bureau of Land Management land near Boulder Lake, south of Pinedale, began Saturday afternoon and spread quickly, prompting officials to evacuate about 60 residences and a campground. Sgt. Travis Bingham of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office says all residents were allowed to return to their homes Sunday evening and the campground was reopened. There are still restrictions on some backcountry areas. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, local authorities are blaming someone shooting at an exploding target.

Study: Converting railroad bridge feasible but expensive

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A study finds that converting a historic North Dakota railroad bridge into a pedestrian bridge can be done but it would be expensive. Landscape architecture professors at North Dakota State University looked at repurposing the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge as a footbridge. The Bismarck Tribune reports the report concluded that would cost almost $6.9 million. Proponents of saving the structure acknowledge that they don’t yet have any funding commitments. Bridge owner BNSF Railway maintains that converting the 136-year-old bridge — rather than demolishing it — would delay a needed new bridge and also cause safety concerns. The bridge over the Missouri River connects Bismarck and Mandan. Friends of the Rail Bridge is proposing to convert the bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle path.