EPA deletes portion of Libby, Montana Superfund site from National Priorities List (posted 4/11/19)
Deletion reflects continued cleanup progress at site
LIBBY, MONTANA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today (April 10, 2019) announced the deletion of a portion of the Libby Asbestos Superfund site in Libby, Montana from the National Priorities List (NPL). EPA and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality have determined that all required cleanup activities are complete in the Operable Unit 2 (OU2) area for deletion.
gThe deletion of these properties from the Superfund list reflects the progress EPA and our partners continue to make in cleaning up and restoring properties in Libby,h said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Thomas.
The Libby Asbestos Superfund site was placed on the NPL in 2002 due to high levels of Libby Amphibole asbestos in and around the communities of Libby and Troy. The site is divided into eight Operable Units. Operable Unit 2 of the site includes areas impacted by asbestos contamination released from the former Screening Plant. These areas include the former plant, the Flyway property, the Highway 37 right]of]way next to the former Screening Plant and Rainy Creek Road and privately-owned properties, collectively totaling 45 acres. Components of the long-term remedy included the removal and containment of contaminants and institutional controls to prevent exposure. EPA completed these cleanup actions in 2012.
EPA is deleting OU2 based on a determination that no further remediation action is needed to protect human health and the environment. The area will continue to be subject to operation and maintenance activities, including regular reviews for protectiveness. EPA will continue to address contamination concerns at remaining Operable Units of the Libby Asbestos site, which includes the former mine site.
For more information about the Libby Superfund site, visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/libby-asbestos
How Is Libby, Troy, Yaaks Real Estate Market in 2019? (posted 4/11/19)
Guest article by Alice L. Hayes, Loveless Realty
1/1/2019 03/31/2019 Current Real Estate figures were:
SALES & PENDINGS:
22 Residential SALES: 14 in Libby; 8 in Troy; 0 in Yaak
14 Land SALES: 9 in Libby; 4 in Troy; 1 in Yaak
0 Commercial/Multi-Family SALES: 0 in Libby; 0 in Troy
20 Residential PENDING: 14 in Libby; 4 in Troy; 2 in Yaak
3 Land PENDING: 2 in Libby; 1 in Troy
0 Commercial/M-Family PENDING:
84 Residential ACTIVES: 30 in Libby; 48 in Troy; 6 Yaak
174 Land ACTIVES: 98 in Libby; 69 in Troy; 7 in Yaak
20 Comm/Multi-Fam ACTIVE: 15 in Libby; 3 in Troy; 2 in Yaak
2018 was a very busy year. We were able to help many people move to their new home, move out of their old home, sell their land, buy new land, or even move to a new town. But, there have been others who are still looking to sell their home or land or looking to buy that just right home or perfect piece of land. We trust 2019 will be their year.
Our Inventory of homes is in Short supply and we are looking for more options to offer buyers. If youve toyed with the idea of selling we would enjoy visiting with you about how we can help. What were the price ranges of SOLDS so far this spring?
10K - $150,000 = 17 Sales
151K - $250,000 = 2 Sales
251K - $500,000 = 3 Sales
501K - $800,000 = 0 Sales
801K - $1,500,000 = 0
Information obtained from Montana Regional MLS (MRMLS)
5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?
1. Selling costs: Good news! These deductions are still allowed under the new tax law as long as they are directly tied to the sale of the home and a married coupleor a single taxpayerlived in the home for at least two out of the five years preceding the sale. Another caveat: The home must be a principal residence and not an investment property. "You can deduct any costs associated with selling the homeincluding legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions," says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY. This could also include home staging fees, according to Thomas J. Williams, a tax accountant who operates Your Small Biz Accountant in Kissimmee, FL. Just remember that you cant deduct these costs in the same way as, say, mortgage interest. Instead, you subtract them from the sales price of your home, which in turn positively affects your capital gains tax.
2. Home improvements and repairs: Score again. The new tax law left this deduction as well. If you renovated a few rooms to make your home more marketable (and so you can fetch a higher sale price), now you can deduct those upgrade costs as well. This includes painting the house or repairing the roof or water heater. But theres a catch, and it all boils down to timing. "If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing," says Zimmelman.
3. Property taxes: This deduction is still allowed, but your total deductions are capped at $10,000, Zimmelman says. If you were dutifully paying your property taxes up to the point when you sold your home, you can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes this year up to $10,000.
4. Mortgage interest: As with property taxes, you can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the portion of the year you owned your home. However, the rules have changed slightly from last year. Just remember that under the new tax code, new homeowners (and home sellers) can deduct the interest on up to only $750,000 of mortgage debt, though homeowners who got their mortgage before Dec. 15, 2017, can continue deducting up to the original amount up to $1 million, according to Zimmelman.
Note that the mortgage interest and property taxes are itemized deductions. This means that for it to work in your favor, all of your itemized deductions need to be greater than the new standard deduction, which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled to $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly (for comparison, it used to be $12,700 for married couples filing jointly).
5. But what's up with capital gains tax for sellers? Lawmakers tried to change the capital gains rule, but it managed to surviveso its still one home sellers can use. It isn't technically a deduction (it's an exclusion), but youre still going to like it.
As a reminder, capital gains are your profits from selling your homewhatever cash is left after paying off your expenses, plus any outstanding mortgage debt. And yes, these profits are taxed as income. But here's the good news: You can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if youre single, and $500,000 if married. The only big catch is you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.
However, look for the rules of this exemption to possibly change in a future tax bill. Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified and vice president at Residential Home Funding, says lawmakers might push to change this so that homeowners would have to live in the property for five of the past eight years, instead of two out of five.
(Information obtained from Realtor.com)
Interest Rates are DOWN NOW Could be a Great Time to Purchase
As of 03/31/2019 Conforming & FHA Loans:
30- Year Fixed; Interest = 4.29%; APR= 4.36%
15- Year Fixed; Interest = 3.75 %; APR= 3.87%
Libby Christian Church Easter Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt April 20th (posted 4/7/19)
Libby Christian Church will hold their Easter Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 20 from 11AM to noon. This is family fun for all ages. There will be candy, 10,000 eggs, free hotdog lunch, and more. Grand prizes will be cool bikes from Bad Medicine Bike Shop. The church will have their Easter Services on Sunday. For more information call 406-293-3747.
Libby Christian Church Easter Services April 21 (posted 4/7/19)
Libby Christian Church will be holding Easter Services on Sunday, April 21st at 8:30AM and 10:45:AM. The church is located at 100 Kootenai River Rd. in Libby. For more information call 406-293-3747.
Governor Bullock announces Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, calls for applicants (posted 3/19/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
MONTANA Governor Steve Bullock today (Tuesday, March 19, 2019) announced that he will establish a Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to help initiate a statewide discussion on grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. The Council will be selected through an application process that ends April 12th.
"The recovery of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems is a great conservation success. Still, official federal delisting has yet to come to fruition," Bullock wrote in a memo to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Martha Williams.
"Legal uncertainty has created a void requiring our leadership," Governor Bullock said. "As bears continue to expand in numbers and habitat, we must identify durable and inclusive strategies to address current issues and prepare for the future. This advisory council represents a key step toward Montana embracing the tremendous responsibility and opportunity of long-term Grizzly Bear recovery and management."
Montana is home, in whole or in part, to four grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS): the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE); the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE); the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem; and the Bitterroot Ecosystem. While grizzly bear numbers have surpassed recovery objectives in the GYE and NCDE, they have yet to reach recovery levels in the Cabinet-Yaak and Bitterroot.
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are officially under the jurisdiction of the FWS, but much of the day-to-day management of bears in Montana is done by FWP in partnership and with oversight of the FWS. The FWS delisted the GYE grizzly bear population under the Endangered Species Act in 2017, but a federal court decision last fall relisted the population. This delayed the delisting process for the NCDE and resulted in an appeal of the GYE decision by the State of Montana and others.
Grizzly bear populations continue to expand, in some cases into areas they have not occupied for decades. Management challenges and conflicts have increased. FWP, along with partner agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the FWS, work together to respond to conflicts as they occur. However, the situation has become increasingly complex as bears move into areas of Montana outside of existing recovery zones, such as the Big Hole Valley, Little Belt Mountains, and the plains east of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Developing strategies to ensure a timely and appropriate response to these conflicts and addressing the needs of communities and landowners most impacted in these areas are key priorities identified for the advisory councils deliberations.
"Were excited to work with this advisory council, and we see this as a great opportunity to find a way forward that reflects the values and needs of Montana as it relates to grizzly bear management," FWP Director Williams said. "A council that is inclusive in its composition will allow for the balanced discussion we need to have."
The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will be tasked with considering broad strategic objectives, such as:
- Maintaining and enhancing human safety;
- Ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population;
- Improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears;
- Engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and
- Improving intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination.
The Council will focus on providing recommendations to the Governors Office, FWP, and the Fish & Wildlife Commission that are clear and actionable on how to move forward with grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. It will consider several pressing issues including bear distribution, connectivity between ecosystems, conflict prevention, response protocols, outreach and education, and the role of hunting and necessary resources for long-term population sustainability.
Governor Bullock is looking for a broad cross-section of interests to serve on the Council, including livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts, conservation groups, hunters, community leaders, Tribal Nation representatives and outdoor industry professionals.
Council application information can be found online at http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/species/grizzlyBear/default.html.
Shopko retailer to close all remaining stores, including Libby (posted 3/19/19)
Shopko chain will close all its remaining retail stores across the country. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 16, 2019 closing more than 100 of its stores. The Libby store was spared closing at that time as the company looked for a buyer during its Chapter 11 restructuring.
The company was experiencing excessive debt and was forced to seek protection from creditors. It attempted to continue operating through Chapter 11 reorganization. The company was not able to find a suitable buyer and announced the closing of all its 250 locations on March 18th. This includes all its Montana locations, including the Libby store. All stores will be closed by summer 2019, most by June. The company reportedly has some 18,000 employees. It is headquartered near Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Shopko bought out the Pamida brand stores in 1999, which served smaller communities of 3000-8000 people, such as Libby. Pamida and Shopko merged into one company in 2012.
Additional Montana stores facing closure by June include those in Evergreen, Missoula, Billings, Helena, Sidney, Dillon, Shelby, Glasgow, Lewistown, Livingston, Kalispell, and Whitefish.
Gordon Brothers will oversee the companys liquidation, which should take 10 to 12 weeks.
While the closing of these stores appears to be a huge hit to local economies and employees, from a business perspective it might also be an opportunity for local business entrepreneurs, if they have the capital and inclination to take advantage of the closing of the big box store in their community.
Yaak Wings Benefit May 4 (posted 3/19/19)
The Yaak Wings Benefit will be held on Saturday, May 4. 2019 at the Yaak River Tavern, 29238 Yaak River Rd. in Yaak, Montana. It will be from 2-5PM. There will be a silent auction, bucket raffle, live music, face painting and chair massage for donation. There will be hotdogs and popcorn for sale. Mexican themed dinner will be available from 5-6PM for $10/person. The live auction will begin at 6:30PM. All proceeds go to benefit Lincoln County Wings, an organization helping families and friends undergoing cancer treatment.
Birds of Prey Day at Libby Dam May 25 (posted 4/19/19)
Libby Dam Visitor Center will have their grand opening season kickoff on Saturday, May 25 with their 8th annual Birds of Prey appreciation event from 9am-Noon. After the bird program there will be lots of fun family-friendly activities, including an opportunity to become "Bear Aware" with Kim Annis of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Public Tours of the dam will start at Noon on Saturday, May 25. The Libby Dam Visitor Center will have some open hours during the month of May. Hours will be posted on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LibbyDamMT
The Corps of Engineers at Libby Dam will be hosting a FREE 1.5 day workshop for teachers and informal educators interested in learning more about electricity and how dams work on May 2 and 3, 2019. This workshop is sponsored by The Foundation for Water and Energy Education (https://www.fwee.org). A hard-hat tour of the dam is included, as well as an optional hike at Kootenai Falls; did you know that there was once a plan to build a dam and hydropower plant near the site of the falls? Come learn more about this and other little known stories, including how an architect helped design the art deco look of Libby Dam. Call or email Park Ranger Susan James for more info and to sign up. They will have free camping downstream of the dam if participants need a place to stay.
The dam Visitor Center is taking reservations for educational tours for schools, youth groups, homeschool groups. Call Susan James, Park Ranger, to reserve a date and to sign up for the free workshop in May: 406-293-5577
Hunter, Bowhunter Education instructors honored for Years of Service (posted 3/19/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks honored the service of its Region 1 hunter and bowhunter education instructors at an annual workshop on March 9, 2019 in Kalispell.
The annual workshop is an opportunity for FWP staff and instructors from each region to review the program, discuss updates and new equipment, and to celebrate the volunteerism of the instructors.
The heart of Montana's hunter and bowhunter education programs is the corps of dedicated volunteer instructors. They stand as examples of how each hunter should demonstrate ethics, behavior and responsibility to themselves, landowners, other hunters and the resource.
At the 2019 workshop in Kalispell, several instructors were awarded for service milestones, ranging from five to 30 years. The latest honorees are listed below.
Dale Somerfield of Kalispell was named the Region 1 Instructor of the Year.
"The men and women who volunteer to mentor new hunters are skilled, passionate and dedicated to Montanas hunting heritage and to teaching firearms safety," said Dillon Tabish, the information and education program manager for FWP Region 1.
"These instructors serve their communities in a very important way. They deserve a sincere Thank you from all of us."
In 2018, a total of 1,561 students were certified through Montana hunter and bowhunter education in Region 1. Statewide, a total of 9,050 students were certified last year.
If anyone is interested in the future of hunting, in improving sportsmanship and safety in the field, or teaching an appreciation for the vast hunting resources in Montana, FWP encourages them to sign up to become an instructor. Visit fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter for more information. Registration is open for spring classes across the region, and students should register online at http://www.fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter
FWP Region 1 Service Milestones
5 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Megan Turner, Plains
5 Years (Hunter Ed)
Nicholas Haas, Kalispell
Russell Harbin, Polson
Grant Holle, Bigfork
Sarah Osborn, Troy
Tony Popp, Kalispell
AJ Popp, Kalispell
Chaunce Sabin, Whitefish
Wes Targerson, Polson
Dana Thingelstad, Ronan
Eruk Williamson, Polson
10 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Benjamin Valentine, Troy
10 Years (Hunter Ed)
Ben Chappelow, Eureka
Jim Jones, Troy
Doug Padden, Plains/Thompson Falls
Nathan Sommers, Kalispell
15 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Alan Kelly, Libby
Monty Long, Kalispell
20 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Peter Drowne, Bigfork
Harold Hudson, Trout Creek
20 Years (Hunter Ed)
Wayne Crismore, Plains
Bob Friedman, Kalispell
Tom Horelick, Libby
Ned Winebrenner, Hot Springs
25 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Ron Nail, Whitefish
Larry Rattray, Proctor
25 Years (Hunter Ed)
Jon Cuthbertson, Kalispell
Patrick Flanary, Eureka
Dale Sommerfield, Kalispell
Tim Thier, Trego
30 Years (Hunter Ed)
Ron Nail, Whitefish
Donny Place, Libby
2019 Fishing Regulations available (posted 2/25/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
The 2019 Fishing Regulations are available online here: http://fwp.mt.gov/fish/. Hard copies of the fishing regulations are available now at FWP offices and local license providers.
2019 Turkey Regulations and Applications available (posted 2/25/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
The 2019 Spring and Fall Turkey Regulations are available online here: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/regulations/. Hard copies of the hunting regulations will be on the shelf at FWP offices and local license providers in March.
Turkey applications are also available online here: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/licenses/buyApply/default.html
Rare Caribou sightings reported in Northwest Montana (posted 11/5/18)
Stock photo courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana FWP working with wildlife biologists in British Columbia
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional staff have received reports of a rare sight in northwest Montana.
Residents have recently documented sightings of woodland caribou near the U.S.-Canada border. The multiple sightings include the potential for a bull and a cow in separate locations.
Caribou, members of the deer family, are native to northwest Montana but have almost completely disappeared from the contiguous United States over the last half century.
Woodland caribou herds once stretched from central British Columbia to Idaho, Montana and Washington. The decline in population is largely attributed to high mortality linked to habitat fragmentation, alteration, loss of old growth forest, and subsequent predation impacts. Woodland caribou are now protected in the United States and British Columbia.
Caribou have been known to roam from the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in southern B.C into Montana, Idaho and Washington but the occurrences have become increasingly rare.
Caribou are similar in size to mule deer but have different coloration, large round hooves and unique antlers. Even cow caribou can have visible small antlers.
"There are three weeks left of big-game hunting season in Montana. Hunters are reminded to be sure of their target and beyond," said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 wildlife manager.
After confirming reports of the recent sightings, Montana FWP contacted wildlife biologists in British Columbia and informed them of the sightings. FWP will continue to work closely with partners in British Columbia on the conservation of the species.
Libby, Most Charming Small Town in Montana (posted 8/14/18)
Charming Libby, Montana
According to Reader's Digest
Readers Digest posted a story under the Travel section of their website on "The Most Charming Small Town in Every State." Libby was selected as the Most Charming Small Town for Montana. "Youll find the heart of America in these small-town gems lost in time. Add them to your must-visit list now," said author Lyn Mettler.
"Set in view of the Cabinet Mountain Range and yet another part of Montanas fantastic outdoors, Libby, which is located on the northwest side of the state, Libby is surrounded by lakes, fishing, hiking trails, camping, and endless scenic drives. For a locals experience, get a taste of Montana on tap at Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company and enjoy a meal at The Black Board Bistro with a locally-sourced seasonal menu."
Click on this link for their complete list of Most Charming Towns:
lies in the northwest corner of Montana and is nestled in a valley carved by the
Kootenai River on the flank of the majestic Cabinet Mountain Range and Wilderness
about 2,800 people live within Libby proper. The main industries are lumber and
wood products, mining, tourism and recreation. The movies "The River Wild" and
"Always" were filmed here. Contact the Libby
Chamber of Commerce for brochures, info on lodging and events, general area
information, and contact information for local businesses and services.
When the weather warms and the mountain
snows melt away, the Kootenai National Forest comes alive with over 2.2
million acres of public land as a playground. Mountain trails and lakes
open up, beautiful wildflowers come in bloom, and wildlife have their young.
Libby is the basecamp for the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, 90-mile
long Lake Koocanusa, the Northwest Peaks Scenic Area, and the Ten Lakes
Scenic Area. There is good access to most of the Forest and plenty of room
to get away from it all!
Winter in Montana means snow, and lots
of it! For those who love to play in the deep powder, the Libby area offers tremendous
winter fun. Turner Mountain Ski Area, located
just 22 miles from Libby, offers challenging downhill skiing with a beautiful
view. Their slogan is "steep, deep and cheap", and Turner definitely
lives up to that. It's still fairly undiscovered, so you can escape the crowds
and get the cheapest lift tickets around. For those who love snowmobiling,
there are hundreds of miles of backcountry roads to sled on in the Kootenai National
Forest. Cross-country skiers and ice fishermen also can find solitude on a lake
and miles of quiet forest trails to enjoy the outdoors. Those who are a bit on
the wild and crazy side will love the antics of the Libby Polar Bear Club.
Members take winter-time "swims" in frigid Libby Creek every Sunday
from October to April. Plungers have ranged in age from 3 to 61. As long as the
ice can be broken on the creek, if it has formed, the group will take their plunge,
no matter the temperature.
These people must be
Polar Bear Club