- Associated Press - Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Sept. 1, on bison relocation and wildlife management policies:

It was a quiet event, attended by only a few, but the trucking of 55 Yellowstone bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in late August may mark a turning point in state and federal struggles to control park bison populations.

The bison will be quarantined at Fort Peck as a final step in ensuring they are disease free and then they and their offspring can be moved to bolster other herds of bison throughout the region.

Some bison are known to carry brucellosis, a disease that can cause domestic livestock to abort their fetuses. There has never been a documented case of bison transmitting the disease to livestock, but disproportionate fears of infection has driven bison management policy for decades. That policy has involved hazing roaming bison back into Yellowstone and the wholesale slaughter of bison when they are driven from the park by heavy winter snowfall. These draconian measures have garnered national attention and generated negative publicity for Montana’s wildlife management policies.

Bison advocates have urged allowing the animals to roam outside the park and using excess numbers of bison to start or expand herds in other appropriate habitats. But agricultural concerns have largely thwarted those efforts.



The successful move of the bison to Fort Peck - along with more expected in the coming months - could change all that. If the bison prove to be disease free, the move could open the door to many more animals being shipped to new locations. And the trade in bison to other herds could become economic development tool for the reservation.

Bison are a wildlife species native to the Great Plains just as much as elk and antelope are. But sometimes less-than-rational fear of the lumbering beasts has led to bad decisions. The option of moving bison to other suitable locations offers a new and much more humane tool for managing the species.

Tribal officials are urged to extend their best efforts to the successful management of the park bison. They are playing a key role in turning the page toward new and more enlightened bison management.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2lElnLF

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The Helena Independent Record, Sept. 1, on new schools opened in Helena and city commitment to education:

Helena’s public schools are at the center of our community.

They serve as gathering places for public meetings, sports contests and other events that bring friends and neighbors together.

They lay the groundwork for individual students to succeed in life by teaching academics, social skills and how to be a good citizen.

They help secure our future by bringing up the next generation of business and civic leaders who hold our fate in their hands.

Our public schools have helped make Helena the special place we all know and love. And our community’s sizable investment in three new elementary school buildings will help ensure they continue to benefit the lives of current and future Helenans for many years to come.

Last week marked the first day of school in the newly constructed Central, Bryant and Jim Darcy elementary schools, which were built with funds from a $63 million bond approved by voters in 2017. This is a historic time for Helena, which had not previously opened a new school since Four Georgians Elementary School was built more than 40 years ago.

The community’s support of this project sends a clear message that Helena understands and appreciates the value of a quality education and the public schools that make it freely available to everyone.

That is something worth celebrating, and the Independent Record is marking the occasion with a special keepsake publication produced in partnership with Helena Public Schools.

Included in today’s newspaper, the special section includes photos and stories that explain the history of the three new schools and what they offer now. The publication also contains letters of gratitude from several school district officials, including the three principals who now oversee the new school buildings.

As several school district officials noted, these schools are not just there for students. They are there for the community that invested in them.

And we trust that investment will continue to pay dividends for a very long time.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2lSLKxB

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The Montana Standard, Sept. 1, on raising funds to bring new flights to Butte, Montana:

If you’re interested in more flights in and out of Bert Mooney Airport in Butte - and who among us is not? - an important deadline is looming.

In order to have a chance to attract new flights, Butte is required to put up a minimum revenue guarantee of $385,000.

We are all fortunate that the Tourism and Business Improvement District has committed to making a $200,000 matching investment toward this guarantee. But within the next month, Butte has to raise the remaining $185,000 from local businesses and personal contributions.

The good news about this required investment is that it’s not just aimed at one flight, but rather about the process of attracting more and more flights to Butte.

Bozeman, which has developed its airport into a regional center (a new daily American Airlines flight from Los Angeles and weekly flights to New York and Philadelphia were announced just Thursday), went through this process a few years ago, raising a $500,000 minimum revenue guarantee fund. The good news: They haven’t actually had to use the money yet, because the flights have met revenue goals.

As Butte struggles to establish itself as a desirable destination and jumping-off point, that minimum revenue guarantee, once secured, could end up being leveraged time and again to attract new flights.

The minimum revenue guarantee allows the community to partner with specific airlines in sharing the risk of adding flights into the market. Without it, any effort to add even one flight will be ill-fated.

So it’s beyond essential to get this money raised, and quickly.

When you factor in the expense of commuting to another airport, the parking fees (Butte’s airport parking remains free!) and the time lost going back and forth, flying out of Butte looks more and more attractive.

The economic benefit of Butte’s airport - and its necessity as a precursor to any economic growth - cannot be overstated.

Some of our community leaders have gone on the record to make that point.

“Robust air service is critical to St. James Healthcare for the recruitment and retention of highly skilled health care professionals including physicians,” says Jay Doyle, president of St. James Healthcare. “Adding a flight to an additional hub airport such as Denver will make it significantly easier to recruit physicians to our community and our region.”

“The growth of our community is directly tied to increasing the number of visitors and business travel to our area. The more flights we are able to offer, the more opportunities Butte has to grow,” says Joe McClafferty, president of the Montana Tech Foundation and vice chancellor for advancement and university relations at Tech.

Working to help raise this money against this tight deadline, in addition to the Butte Local Development Corporation and the Butte Chamber of Commerce, are Butte’s own Don Peoples Sr., Rick Griffith, and Jim Kambich.

They aren’t looking for cash on the barrelhead but rather pledges, from businesses and individuals.

Those interested in donating can contact the BLDC’s Joe Willauer; Stephanie Sorini, executive director of the Butte Chamber of Commerce; or Peoples, Griffith or Kambich.

Don’t be surprised if they reach out to you - but you don’t need to wait. Your pledge could be critical to making this tight fundraising deadline.

The economic multiplier effects of attracting new visitors to Butte and increasing air traffic are hugely significant. But the downside is worth keeping in mind: If we don’t grow the service here, we could potentially lose what we have.

If you can contribute, please do so with dispatch.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2lC1k0I

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