HELENA, Mont. — Three sites on the Powder River show a difference in water quality between the time prior to coalbed methane development and during the production period, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report. However, thirteen other sites, including mainstem and tributaries to the Tongue and Powder Rivers in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana, showed few substantial differences in water quality between the two time periods.
The USGS, in cooperation with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Water Management Bureau, analyzed data collected between 1980 and 2010 at 16 sites in the Tongue and Powder River Basins. Eleven water-quality constituents and properties were selected for trend analyses in the report to determine if there were water quality changes.
The three sites on the Powder River with a difference were all downstream of Arvada, Wyo., having increases in sodium, alkalinity (an indicator of bicarbonate), and sodium adsorption ratio during the time period of coalbed methane extraction activities. The site on the Powder River upstream of the coalbed methane activity did not show corresponding increases in these or other evaluated constituents and properties.
"It's important to understand that the hydrology and water quality of streams in the Tongue and Powder River Basins are complex. Assessing potential impacts of CBM activities using advanced statistical methods was a large undertaking," said Steve Sando, USGS hydrologist and lead author of the report.
Streams in both the Powder and Tongue River Basins can naturally have high levels of many water-quality constituents and properties, making it challenging to determine if changes are occurring, and what the causes of the changes are. An increase of water-quality constituents and properties, regardless of the cause, might be a concern if it affects how the water can be used. For example, irrigating with water that has high sodium-adsorption ratio values can result in soil swelling, reduced infiltration rates, and increased soil erosion. Water that has very high bicarbonate can have adverse effects on aquatic life. However, while the report has general descriptions of water quality at each site, the primary purpose of the report was to determine if changes were occurring, not to determine the usability of the water.
Copies of "Trends in Major-Ion Constituents and Properties for Selected Sampling Sites in the Tongue and Powder River Watersheds, Montana and Wyoming, Based on Data Collected During Water Years 1980–2010
" are available online.
Be Safe and Have Fun this Labor Day - Do Your Part to Prevent Wildfires
Montana’s wildfire season is not over. As hot and dry conditions are spreading throughout Montana, it is important for you to do your part in preventing wildfires while being safe and having fun this Labor Day. Here are some things to remember as you head out this weekend:Know Before You Go
Areas of Montana are in restrictions. Check to see if any restrictions are in the area you are going by visiting www.firerestrictions.us
or contact the local fire agency.Be Aware
Every year bad bearings, mufflers, tires and dragging chains start wildfires. These fires are easily preventable with some basic maintenance. Here are some things to look for:
1. Make sure all mechanical outdoor equipment (tractors, chainsaws, off-road vehicles, etc.) are equipped with properly working mufflers and bearings.
2. Avoid driving or parking in tall dry grass. Exhaust systems can easily start fires.
3. If your vehicle breaks down, stay on the road or pull off on an approach.
4. Well-maintained tires reduce the risk of blowouts. Exposed rims can spark fires.
5. Make sure safety chains are secured properly. Dragging chains can spark fires.Prepare
Campfires and warming fires are a lot of fun, but starting a fire comes with responsibility. Everyone needs to take the following steps before having a campfire:
1. Know what the weather forecast is that day, but also the next day as well.
2. Keep your campfire and warming fires at a manageable size.
3. Make sure you have an adequate clear zone around your campfire and warming fires: 4 feet of area cleared for every 1 foot of flame height.
4. Never leave a campfire or warming fire unattended – MAKE SURE IT IS COLD TO THE TOUCH BEFORE LEAVING EVERY TIME.Do
If a fire does get out of control, call 911 immediately.
Dillon, Mont., July 25, 2013….Southwest Montana fire officials are reminding area residents and visitors to be careful with fire. “We’ve had a decent amount of rain in June and early July, but, conditions are starting to dry out,” said Terina Goicoechea, Fire Education Specialist for the BLM. “In many areas, these rains have resulted in a good crop of grass that can feed a wildfire when it dries out. People need to be extremely careful when camping, driving in the back country and cutting firewood,” she said.
Those planning camping trips should also follow these fire safety tips:
· Keep campfires small, and completely extinguish them before leaving camp. The best method is to douse the fire with water, stir the ashes and douse again, making sure that all ashes are cold to the touch.
· Charcoal should be soaked in water after use.
· Smokers should light up only in areas cleared of all flammable debris. Dispose of cigarette butts appropriately.
· Bring along a bucket and shovel.
Those exploring the forests and back country in vehicles must stay on established roads and trails and avoid driving over dry grass and brush that could be ignited by hot exhaust systems. Firewood cutters should operate chainsaws in the cool morning hours and keep a shovel and fire extinguisher nearby. Chainsaws must be equipped with spark arresters.
Information on current fire dangers is available from any office of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Local fire departments also have information on current fire dangers or go online to: http://firerestrictions.us
School trust lands that generate revenue for public institutions, including public education, also offer hunting opportunities for Montana hunters.
Montana’s 5.2 million acres of state school trust lands are managed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Hunters and anglers pay a $2 access fee included in the cost of a conservation license for recreation on legally accessible state trust lands open to recreation.
An informational brochure on state land use rules is also available at all FWP and DNRC offices. For an online version of the brochure, go to the DNRC website at dnrc.mt.gov
under the "About Us" tab for an overview of school trust lands.
Maps that show designated roads on state school trust lands are available at U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service offices.
For more information contact your local DNRC office.
WEST GLACIER, MONT. –The Avalanche Wildland Fire is estimated to be approximately 25 acres and located on Mount Brown, near Avalanche Lake on the west side of Glacier National Park. The Avalanche Lake Trail is closed until further notice.
Smoke was reported on Saturday, September 1 at approximately 2:30 p.m. and the cause of the fire is believed to be lightning. Twenty six fire fighters and aerial water drops are being used to suppress the fire. Firefighters are from Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest and Kootenai National Forest, in addition to eight smoke jumpers. Two US Forest Service helicopters and a contract helicopter are being used to drop water and for aerial observation. A Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helicopter was used to assist with aerial operations on Saturday.
Firefighters are working in rugged terrain with some windy conditions, thus limiting the use of some aerial operations. Smoke is visible throughout various locations in the park, and in some locations in the Flathead Valley.