Nicky Ouellet

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.

A contested water bottling plant outside Kalispell has begun operating and distributing as Flathead County grapples with how to interpret new zoning regulations the plant’s opponents say should shut it down.

Montana Artesian Water Company is stocking its water bottles at a local convenience store and at a few area offices and events under a private label.

The major party candidates in the race for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat are campaigning this weekend. Today Senator Jon Tester will attend a Labor Day picnic hosted by the state public employees union, and then this evening he’ll join union workers locked out of the Imerys Talc Mill on the picket line in Three Forks.

On Saturday Republican Candidate Matt Rosendale hosted day of action events in Helena and Kalispell. 

Fire managers across northwest Montana will lift Stage 2 fire restrictions early Friday morning.

This means campfires and outdoor smoking will be allowed again, and "hoot owl" restrictions for operating equipment will no longer be in effect. Open pile or debris burning is still banned until October.

The U.S. House of Representatives is on recess, and that means Montana’s lone Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte is back home campaigning. I caught him on the phone between events in Kalispell and Havre Wednesday.

There’s a band of rock that starts on one bank of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River west of Essex. It drops down underneath the current and rises up on the other side. Colter Pence says this is her favorite stretch of the Wild and Scenic River.

BNSF Railway is promoting Libby as an area ripe for new rail-reliant development. The Kootenai Business Park is one of three industrial sites nationwide BNSF is spotlighting this year.

BNSF’s Certified Sites program identifies and promotes areas it deems “shovel-ready” for new businesses to set up shop. The designation is based on an evaluation of environmental standards, available utilities and existing infrastructure. It’s meant to lower risk for companies looking to develop quickly in an area that can speedily ship goods to market.

A logging and forest restoration project on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir has been OK'd by the Flathead National Forest.

The draft decision kicks off a 45-day objection period, during which people or groups who have previously commented on the project can file an objection.

Update: 5:20 p.m.

A fast-growing wildfire discovered Thursday night in the northeastern part of Glacier National Park has led to the closure of nearly all of neighboring Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.

Fire managers on the Paola Ridge Fire outside Essex met with homeowners, some under pre-evacuation warnings last night.

Representative Greg Gianforte toured areas affected by the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park Wednesday morning.

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