Huckleberry-filled vacation dreams to Montana’s renewed efforts to catch tourists’ interest by highlighting some of the state’s unique qualities. The Montana Office of Tourism and Development is working with the Tribal Economic Development Commission and tribes across the state to promote Montana’s Indian Country as a can’t-miss destination for visitors. It’s a smart move after a national poll last year showed that 82 percent of leisure travelers would welcome the opportunity to explore sites relating to Native American culture. And with seven reservations and eight tribal nations, Montana is home to a rich array of Native histories, customs and cultures.
Meanwhile, the Montana Department of Commerce is promoting the Montana Dinosaur Trail, which spans the state from Choteau to Glendive and includes 14 museums. Last year, the trail saw an increase in traffic of 3 percent and logged more than 341,600 visitors, a record number. This year, Commerce officials are capitalizing on the expected boost in dinosaur enthusiasts following the release of the new “Jurassic World” film opening in theaters this Friday. As noted by the department, the “Jurassic” film series has close ties to Montana, with the original film referencing Montana and Choteau; and Dr. Jack Horner, who recently retired as curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, was a scientific advisor to the filmmakers. More recently, the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum unveiled a new horned dinosaur discovered near Malta that has captured international interest. More information about the trail and other dinosaur-related activities can be found at MTDinoTrail.org
Soggy chokecherries to the return of rising rivers, closed roads and the possible need to evacuate neighborhoods whose residents have only recently been able to return to their homes. Widespread flooding forced the Montana Department of Transportation to close all roads to Augusta, including a portion of Highway 200. Near Missoula, rainfall this week caused the Clark Fork River to surge by 3 feet, and the Orchard Homes area was once again bracing for flooded homes and washouts. Missoula County has already racked up more than $400,000 in costs to deal with flooding this year, although like other heavily flooded counties in Montana, it is likely eligible for federal assistance and reimbursement.
Parcels of huckleberries to the Missoula City Council members who voted Monday to approve a zoning overlay for the University District. The new restrictions set limits on building size and require features such as setbacks, among other rules aimed at allowing the neighborhood to protect its character without overly onerous mandates. While not everyone is entirely happy with the overlay, with some arguing that it’s too restrictive and others complaining that it’s not restrictive enough, it effectively splits the difference and promises to provide sensible, dependable guidelines for future development.
A backpack stuffed with huckleberries to Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, who was recently tapped to serve on a national school safety committee. The Council of Chief State School Officers, a nonpartisan nonprofit comprised of public education leaders, formed the new committee following the shooting in February at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 people dead. The new 12-member group is tasked with reviewing security measures, mental health resources and school curricula to identify the most effective policies. Other members include the heads of education in Alaska, Wyoming, Hawaii, Florida, Iowa, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota, as well as the director of the Bureau of Indian Education. Here’s hoping the committee is able to make real progress, and that Artnzen represents Montana well on this critically important issue.