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Chamber board appoints interim CEO


The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce board of directors appointed chamber member and board director Britt Ide to serve as interim CEO during the chamber’s search for a new leader, following Kitty Clemens’ resignation. 
A fifth generation Montanan, Ide has more than 25 years of experience as an engineering, legal, business and nonprofit leader. As president of Ide Energy & Strategy, Ide consults on policy, strategy and facilitation for businesses, government agencies and boards.

Ide was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock to Montana’s Clean Power Plan Advisory Council, and also serves on the Infrastructure Advisory Council for NorthWestern Energy. 

Ide’s prior business experience includes leadership positions at Boise Cascade Company, Albertsons Companies Inc., Healthwise Inc. and Idaho Power Company. Her nonprofit board service includes the Idaho Nonprofit Center and the Responsible Business Initiative at Boise State University.
“I look forward to this interim role to lead the fabulous chamber staff during this time of transition with our many initiatives including transportation, workforce housing and tourism enhancement,” Ide said. “This is a welcome opportunity to dive into chamber operations to help me improve my continued board service going forward. I’m passionate about our community and helping businesses thrive here.”
“We are delighted to have Britt step into this role to keep our operations vibrant, and to allow us to carefully select the next leader that will take the chamber forward as our community continues its dramatic growth,” said Board Chairman David O’Connor. 

Closure of Yellowstone River results in economic loss for Park County


MISSOULA – The recent closure of the Yellowstone River due to a parasite outbreak resulted in an economic loss to businesses in Park County of $360,000 to nearly $524,000, according to preliminary estimates from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

Sections of the Yellowstone River were closed on Aug. 19 by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks because of a parasite outbreak that killed thousands of whitefish.

Closure of segments of the drainage to all water-based activities directly impacted spending behavior by visitors to counties affected by the closure, thus reducing revenue to river-dependent business such as outfitters and guides, fly shops, rafting companies, river shuttle companies and myriad spin-off businesses in lodging, food and beverage services, and area attractions.

The estimated economic losses are the equivalent of five to eight full-time jobs.

“We used nonresident visitor spending data based on previous surveys conducted by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research for these numbers,” said ITRR economist Jeremy Sage.

The Upper Yellowstone River is the most fished river drainage in Montana by residents and nonresident visitors to the state, amassing more than 374,000 angler days in 2013 (the most recent angling pressure data available from FWP), and accounting for nearly 11 percent of all angler days in the state.

Advocates say hunts, slaughter threaten Yellowstone bison

By Matt Volz Associated Press

HELENA (AP) – Wildlife advocacy groups are suing to force the U.S. government to study whether the hunting and slaughter of bison that wander outside of Yellowstone National Park threaten the animal’s survival.

Buffalo Field Campaign, Western Watersheds Project and Friends of Animals filed the lawsuit against the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The groups are asking a judge to order federal wildlife officials to study whether the Yellowstone bison should be listed as a threatened or endangered species. They say the Yellowstone bison population is too small, lacks genetic diversity and is confined within a small portion of its historical range.

There are approximately 4,900 Yellowstone bison. Yellowstone officials have said culling the population does not put the population at risk.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Jackson Hole voters shoot down market-incentivized workforce housing ordinance


Voters in Jackson on Sept. 20 voted against an ordinance that would have culminated in the passage of a three-year effort to create market-incentivized affordable housing. According to unofficial election results, the measure failed 827 votes to 647 votes.

The District 2 ordinance had many components, but the sticking point appeared to be the allowance for increased density for short-term rentals within parts of the District 2 boundary, according to Carl Pelletier, public information officer for the Town of Jackson.

“From what I heard [from] different people around the polling places, there was confusion about what exactly [the ordinance] entailed,” Pelletier said. “One of the catch phrases of the opposition was, ‘If you don’t know District 2, vote no.’”

Had the ordinance passed, a developer building 50,000 square feet of deed-restricted affordable housing would have been able to build 100,000 square feet of short-term rental housing in exchange—resulting in up to four times more buildable square footage for short-term rentals than is allowed under current zoning regulations.

“I think [the vote outcome] was about a lot of things, but I think the buzz words ‘short-term rental’ were causing anxiety, and ‘100,000-square-feet of development’ was causing anxiety,” Pelletier said.

He added that city policy makers are going back to the drawing board, and they’re hopeful they’ll be successful in passing the ordinance’s other land development regulations once the short-term rentals component has been removed.

Missoula to require background checks for private gun sales

MISSOULA (AP) – A Montana city will soon require background checks for any private gun sales that occur within its borders.
The Missoula City Council voted 8-4 on Sept. 26 to require background checks for most private sales or trades within city limits. It makes exceptions for family transfers, hunting and emergency self-defense.

“Let’s the raise the bar for ourselves,” said Councilwoman Marilyn Marler, speaking to her fellow gun owners. If criminals get a gun, she said, “they won’t get one from me.”

Missoula is the first city in Montana to require a background check on private firearm sales. The law will take effect in 30 days.

Conducting a background check is the responsible thing to do as a gun owner, said Bryan Von Lossberg, the councilman who wrote the ordinance. He believes the requirement could also prevent suicides and gun violence by a partner.

He did, however, acknowledge that background checks and his own law have limitations and says some gun dealers told him they wouldn’t help provide background checks for citizens.

Councilman Jon Wilkins originally abstained from the vote, but he changed his vote to yes after hearing a 7-4 roll call from the other officials. Wilkins tried to amend the bill to remove jail time as a penalty option, but his motion failed.
Jail time is included as an optional penalty for subsequent offenses only.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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