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Huckleberries to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's finding that the Badger-Two Medicine is "too sacred to drill." The independent federal agency, which oversees the preservation of historic places on federal lands, announced that the exploratory well proposed by Louisiana-based Solenex "would be so damaging ... that the Blackfeet Tribe’s ability to practice their religious and cultural traditions in this area as a living part of their community life and development would be lost." The finding provides yet another strong argument in favor of canceling gas exploration leases in the spiritual homeland of the Blackfeet Nation.

Chokecherries to Livability.com for naming Missoula the 32nd "most livable" mid-sized city in the nation - a steep drop from last year's No. 8 ranking. The group analyzed information about airports, crime, schools and host of other data from more than 2,100 communities in the United States. While no Griz fan will be surprised to learn Missoula is more "livable" than Bozeman, which was No. 34, there's just no way the Garden City is less livable than the three higher-ranking cities in North Dakota: Bismarck (No. 7), Fargo (No. 15) and Grand Forks (No. 28). 

Huckleberries to the sharp decline in meth use among Montana teens. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey clocked the decrease at 63 percent since 2005, and reported that only 3 percent of teens said they had used meth at least once - down from 8.3 percent in 2005. And on that note, huckleberries en plein air to the winners of the Montana Meth Project's Paint the State contest! The project announced that its celebrity panel had chosen six teenagers whose public art projects helped spread the anti-meth message. The winners, who will share a total $30,000 in prize money, are Britt Juchem of Missoula, Briar Ahlborn of St. Ignatius, Peyton Schliep of Great Falls, Jacob Jones of Belgrade, Laura Goulet of Belgrade and Ross Peterson of Missoula.

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Gold-plated chokecherries to the news that the Golden Sunlight Mine is preparing to close in November. The mine near Whitehall is the only active gold mine in Montana, however, the global decline in gold prices is rippling into gold mining investments, leading the mine's owners to shut down open-pit operations and lay off 140 workers. 

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Huckleberries to the new statewide Protect Montana Kids initiative to improve child protection services. In announcing the initiative this week, Gov. Steve Bullock noted that the number of children in state foster care has increased 75 percent over the past eight years. Cases involving children placed in foster care due to drug or alcohol abuse by a parent have increased 65 percent over the past five years. The new initiative aims to add 33 additional staff at child advocacy centers in Montana, provide for better evaluations and training, and also create a sorely needed electronic case management system to allow child welfare workers to keep better track of children in state care. 

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Missoulian editorial board: Publisher Mark Heintzelman, Editor Matt Bunk, Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.

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