Zinke considering 2018 US senate run against Tester
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke is considering a 2018 run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Jon Tester.
The Whitefish Republican says he will be pressuring Tester in coming months to move toward the political center and work with Republicans in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump.
Zinke suggested in an interview with The Associated Press that he would run for Senate if Tester attempts to obstruct proposals for tighter border security and forest management changes.
Zinke was re-elected Nov. 8 to a second term as Montana’s sole representative in the U.S. House.
American Commander, a book that Zinke co-authored about his career as a U.S. Navy SEAL, is due to be released Tuesday.
Tester said immediately after the recent election that he intends to seek a third six-year term.
Missoula’s mayor reveals treatment for alcoholism
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula Mayor John Engen says he has been absent from his job for the past month because he was in a treatment program for alcoholism.
Engen revealed in a letter distributed to media that he returned to work on Monday after checking into a 28-day inpatient program in October.
Earlier this month, Engen’s staff said the mayor would be out of the office for several weeks for medical reasons.
Engen says he wrote the letter because Missoula residents deserve to know their mayor is an alcoholic in recovery, and because his story might help others addicted to alcohol.
He adds that he is confident he can live a healthy, productive and sober life, and that he plans to run for re-election next year.
Engen’s staff tells KECI-TV the mayor will not comment further Monday.
Judge to hear arguments on opening secret Superfund talks
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An attorney for a newspaper and an advocacy group will try to persuade a federal judge to strike down a 14-year-old court order that made settlement talks on Butte’s ongoing mining waste cleanup confidential.
The Montana Standard and Silver Bow Creek Headwaters Coalition are scheduled to appear Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon in Helena.
The newspaper petitioned to intervene in the case between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Atlantic Richfield Co. after it was denied a public record request on information about settlement negotiations related to the Superfund cleanup.
Montana Standard attorney James Goetz argues the information should be public under the state’s freedom of information laws, but the 2002 confidentiality order prevents its release.
Both Arco and the U.S. Department of Justice oppose the newspaper’s intervention in the case.
No new walleye found in Swan Lake
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — No new walleye have been found in Swan Lake, marking good news for the lake’s trout population.
The Daily Inter Lake reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ annual lake-trout netting program turned up no new walleye when it was completed last month, unlike last year when two of the invasive fish were found.
If walleyes established a breeding population in Swan Lake, the predatory fish could damage the lake’s population of kokanee salmon and bull trout, which are classified as threatened.
Testing determined the potentially destructive species ended up in Swan Lake as a result of an illegal introduction rather than an established population.
A mandatory kill regulation put into place last year requires any angler who hooks a walleye to kill it rather than returning it to Swan Lake.
Montana ski resorts report good crowds opening weekend
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Ski season is underway at a pair of Montana resorts.
The Red Lodge Mountain and Big Sky ski resorts opened for the season this past holiday weekend.
The resorts both reported good crowds looking to get in their first runs of the season.
Limited snowfall leading up to the weekend forced the resorts to scale back the number of runs they could offer. But the resorts are working hard to make snow and open more terrain.
About 1,200 people purchased lift tickets on Saturday and another 500 hit the slopes on Sunday at Red Lodge.
Big Sky opened on Thanksgiving Day with about 1,300 skiers and snowboarders turning out.
Elsewhere, Bridger Bowl is scheduled to open Dec. 9
Farmers in Wyoming, Montana see record sugar beet harvests
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Record sugar beet harvests will keep refineries busy making sugar longer than usual.
The Billings Gazette reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects the worldwide demand for sugar will outpace supply.
Randall Jobman of Western Sugar Cooperative says farmers in Montana and Wyoming saw record yields.
Farmers growing beets in eastern Montana for Sidney Sugars broke a 1998 record by delivering 1.124 million tons.
The company’s agriculture manager Duane Peters said fall moisture was instrumental in reversing farmers’ losses over the summer.
Beets kept growing without a hard freeze in October.
Average sugar content is slightly lower than usual at about 17 percent.
Montana’s economy absorbs roughly $100 million annually from its sugar industry.