Tuesday, Aug. 20th, 2019

KGLT expands listening area with Big Sky translator

The studios of KGLT are tucked into the third floor of Montana State University’s Strand Union Building, but the station’s growing reach extends well beyond campus.

In the last few years, the station brought in new listeners in the Big Timber area and strengthened its signal around Helena. This summer, the station expanded to Big Sky.

“At KGLT, we’re primarily focused on delivering this alternative, free-format radio to our listeners,” said KGLT General Manager Craig Clark. “We want to provide as much access as possible.”

A new translator in Big Sky has been on the station’s wish list for years. Service in the area was spotty and depended on how the main signal broadcasting from near Logan bounced through Gallatin Canyon. But at the end of July, KGLT installed the new translator on Andesite Mountain, near the top of Big Sky Resort’s Ramcharger and Thunder Wolf lifts. The 20-watt translator broadcasts, like the main KGLT transmitter, at 91.9 FM. The signal is fed over the internet to a facility at the top of the mountain, where it is translated into radio waves that cover Big Sky Town Center and Meadow Village.

Clark said an informal car radio test of the new signal showed drastically improved reception. And though mountainous topography still cuts off the signal in some areas, Clark said he was satisfied the translator would open up a new community of listeners.

“We’re providing more opportunities for people to listen wherever they go in the Gallatin County and eager to make connections in the Big Sky community,” he said.

KGLT has been working to acquire a translator in the area for about a year and a half, spearheaded by former station manager Ellen King-Rogers. Aside from the costs of equipment, frequencies are only available by license through the Federal Communications Commission and infrequently. The station was able to secure a license, then applied for a permit to change the frequency to 91.9 FM.

“It’s rare to have a translator at the same frequency,” Clark said, adding that it will help create seamless listening for those commuting between Big Sky and Bozeman.

Ron Craighead, marketing and underwriting director for the station, sees potential for creating greater connection between Bozeman and Big Sky over the airwaves. He and Clark are looking into partnerships with existing underwriters in Big Sky as well as ways to represent area nonprofit organizations through the station’s public service announcements.

“We’re just excited to welcome Big Sky into the KGLT family and look forward to serving the Big Sky community,” Craighead said.

KGLT began as a student station in 1968 and is still a program of the Associated Students of Montana State University. The station’s DJs include students, faculty and staff of the university as well as community members. Students also fill roles in production and support staff, such as the chief announcer and assistant music director.

“ASMSU is proud to support KGLT, our community radio station,” said Sophia Elias, ASMSU vice president. “We're thrilled the new translator will help reach Bobcats all across the Big Sky.”

The station broadcasts at 91.9 FM and 97.1 FM in Bozeman; 91.9 FM in Big Sky; 89.1 FM in Helena; 89.5 FM in Livingston; 107.1 FM in Gardiner; 90.5 FM in Big Timber and online at kglt.net.

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Friday, Aug. 16th, 2019

Ascent Vision Technologies Appoints Lee Dingman as President & CCO


Ascent Vision Technologies
(AVT) is proud to announce the promotion of Lee Dingman to the position of President and Chief Commercial Officer. Lee commenced his new duties on August 1st, leading the commercial team towards business goals and objectives.

Lee Dingman has been a fundamental team leader since AVT was established back in 2015. Lee’s strength in sales and strategy has supported business growth and development. In his new role, Lee will direct commercial strategy, leading the global Sales and Marketing Department. Lee joined Ascent Vision after a successful career in the medical industry. Prior to this, Lee served 9 years of military service as an Infantry Officer in the US Army. Lee is a combat veteran of the Iraq War and a 2000 Graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point.

CEO at AVT, Tim Sheehy, said “I am delighted to announce Lee Dingman as President and CCO of AVT. Lee has been an instrumental member of the leadership team at Ascent Vision since its founding in 2015 and he continues to lead the team into exciting new growth markets.”

About Ascent Vision Technologies (AVT)
AVT specializes in innovative systems for counter UAS; air defense; ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance); and target acquisition for the defense and aerospace industry. AVT is a world-leading provider of CUAS solutions. The X-MADIS, eXpeditionary Mobile Air Defense Integrated System, is a proven fully integrated solution that detects, locates, tracks, identifies and defeats sUAS for fixed site and on-the-move mission. AVT designs and manufactures high-performance, multi sensor, gyro-stabilized imaging systems for airborne, ground and maritime domains, which are fielded in over 50 countries.

Find out more about AVT by visiting www.ascentvision.com.

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Thursday, Aug. 15th, 2019

City of Bozeman Downtown Parking Announcement

DOWNTOWN PARKING ANNOUNCEMENT:
 
Using new parking technology, the City of Bozeman has developed a process for ticketing vehicles that park in the Bridger Park Downtown Garage, primarily after 5 pm and before 8 am, for more than two hours without paying as required. Rather than receiving a ticket on the windshield, a citation will be mailed to the registered owner's address, as listed with the Department of Motor Vehicles. 
 
Parkers can avoid a citation by utilizing the pay stations located on the ground level of all three stairwells. The City of Bozeman intends to implement this 'mailed citation' process within the next 3-5 days. 
 
Please contact the Parking Services Department, 406-582-2903, emeece@bozeman.net, with any questions.

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Thursday, Aug. 8th, 2019

Bozeman Symphony Announces Six Music Director Finalists Bozeman

After launching their search earlier this year, having received over 200 applicants for the position of Music Director, the Bozeman Symphony has selected six finalists to be featured throughout their upcoming 2019-2020 concert season. Finalists were identified by a search committee using a process that included reviews of materials, interviews, and additional research. The organization’s Board of Directors will host the finalists over a span of two weeks as each finalist participates in guest conducting rehearsals and performances, along with scheduled activities to include meetings with the orchestra, choir, administrative staff, Board of Directors, donors, community partners, media, Montana State University and the public schools. Music Director finalists will participate in the season’s programming as they present a “conductor’s choice” highlighted at each concert series performance held at Willson Auditorium. The list of finalists along with their scheduled performance dates and a short biography follows. 


Stefan Sanders: September 28 & 29, 2019
Stefan Sanders, conductor and arts advocate, cultivates cultures of artistic excellence, sustained growth and development, and meaningful engagement within the communities he is fortunate to serve. This year, Stefan embarks on his seventh season as Music Director for the Central Texas Philharmonic, his third season as Music Director for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in North Carolina, and his second season as Music Director for the Spartanburg Philharmonic in South Carolina. Stefan has several upcoming guest conducting engagements including several weeks as the cover/assistant conductor for the New York Philharmonic. In 2016, Stefan was a featured conductor for the League of American Orchestras “Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview.” The prestigious conductor showcase is designed to feature talented young conductors poised for music directorships with American Orchestras. Prior to his conducting career, Stefan was an internationally renowned trombonist. Website: http://www.stefansanders.net/



Andrew Crust: October 26 & 27, 2019
Andrew Crust is the newly-appointed Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony, starting in the 19/20 season, where he will conduct the VSO in a variety of concert series each season.Previously Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Crust conducted over 35 performances each season. Recent positions include Assistant Conductor of the Portland Symphony, Cover Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony and Nashville Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic, and Assistant Conductor of Opera McGill. In 2017-18 Mr. Crust served as Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA with Michael Tilson-Thomas, Marin Alsop and Giancarlo Guerrero. Recent invitations include concerts in Hartford, Winnipeg, New Orleans, Lima, Bozeman and others. International invitations include l'Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, the Hamburger Symphoniker, the Moravian Philharmonic, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile and others. In 17/18 he was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana by Daniele Gatti.Website: https://andrewcrust.com/



Norman Huynh: December 14 & 15, 2019
Norman Huynh is currently the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Associate Conductor of the Oregon Symphony. Now in his third season, he is responsible for conducting an array of concerts including classical subscription, film, education, family and specials. This season, Norman makes his debut with the Rochester Philharmonic, Grant Park Music Festival, Omaha Symphony, and a reengagement with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Norman has served as a cover conductor for the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics. Prior to Oregon, Norman was the Assistant Conductor for the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine from 2013-2016. Norman is a graduate of the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and School studying under the tutelage of Robert Spano. One of Norman’s greatest passions is educating the next generation of musicians and music lovers. With an extensive background in music education, he develops youth concerts to provide a tailored and meaningful experience for concertgoers of all ages. His performances have been nationally broadcasted on American Public Media's Performance Today. Norman studied orchestral conducting at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University working with Gustav Meier, Markand Thakar, and Marin Alsop.Website: http://normanhuynhconductor.com/



Wesley Schulz: January 25 & 26, 2020
Wesley Schulz, in his first two seasons with the North Carolina Symphony conducted 150 performances. This included a last-minute Masterworks debut conducting Bernstein’s Serenade with violinist Philippe Quint as well as the entire ballet score to Bernstein’s Fancy Free and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. As the main conductor of the Symphony’s Pops series, Schulz has collaborated with Pink Martini, Cirque de la Symphonie, Broadway By Request, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael Cavanaugh and more. In addition, Schulz leads dozens of performances in the Young People’s Concerts, SummerFest, Holiday and Education series. Schulz just completed his first season as Music Director of the Auburn Symphony Orchestra; one of the Pacific Northwest’s best regional orchestras. In their first year together, they presented works by Brahms, Anna Clyne, Respighi, Kevin Puts, Rachmaninoff and more. From 2014-2015 Schulz served as Conducting Fellow of the Seattle Symphony. Schulz graduated magna cum laude with Bachelor degrees in Percussion Performance and Music Education from Ball State University and Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. When not on the podium, Schulz can be seen running the streets of your city or playing endless fetch with his two dogs, Chewbacca and Han Solo. Website: http://www.wesleyschulz.com/



Thomas Heuser: March 7 & 8, 2020
American conductor Thomas Heuser has been widely recognized for his stirring leadership and energetic presence both onstage and in the community. Currently he serves as Music Director of the Idaho Falls Symphony in Idaho Falls, Idaho, as well as the San Juan Symphony, an innovative regional orchestra based in Durango, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico, that serves the Four Corners. Thomas lives in scenic Durango with his wife, violinist Lauren Avery, and their son Theodore. Dr. Heuser was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for Orchestral Conducting in Germany while serving as a Conducting Fellow with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Moving from Munich to San Francisco, Thomas enjoyed three seasons as the Principal Guest Conductor of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, working alongside members of the San Francisco Symphony. The son of two molecular biologists at Washington University in St. Louis, Thomas began violin lessons at an early age and studied piano at the St. Louis Symphony Music School. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College and within two years had earned his Masters in Instrumental Conducting (MM) from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Website: http://www.thomasheuser.com/Welcome.html



Janna Hymes: May 2 & 3, 2020
Versatility, passion and innovation are the hallmarks of American conductor Janna Hymes. Renowned for her inspiring performances, musical depth and energetic presence both on and off the podium, she has developed a reputation as an exciting, detailed communicator. Ms. Hymes is Music Director of Indiana’s Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) since 2017.  A popular guest conductor, Hymes continues to expand her relationships with orchestras nationwide. In May 2019 Ms. Hymes stepped down from her post as Music Director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra (VA). During her tenure, she led the orchestra on its first international tour at the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts and introduced several performance and education initiatives that are now part of the orchestra's season. Born in New York City, Janna Hymes is a Fulbright scholar, recipient of a 1999 Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation Grant, and a prizewinner of the 1998 International Conducting Competition in Besancon, France. She studied under such prominent conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Gustav Meier, Otto Werner-Mueller and Gunther Schuller, and holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. She also studied at the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, the Festival at Sandpoint (ID), and the Conductor’s Guild Institute. Website: https://jannahymes.com/

The Music Director selection process will provide the opportunity for the community to participate in a landmark event for the Bozeman Symphony. A new Music Director will be appointed in 2020 at the conclusion of the Symphony’s concert season. Information about the search will be updated regularly on the Symphony’s website, www.bozemansymphony.org. For more information, contact the Bozeman Symphony at 406-585-9774 or emily@bozemansymphony.org.

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Warm temps trigger fishing restrictions for section of lower Big Hole River

An 18-mile stretch of the lower Big Hole River will close to fishing during the afternoon each day due to a seasonal rise in water temperatures. 

A hoot owl restriction will go into effect at 2 p.m. on Aug. 8 from Notch Bottom Fishing Access Site to the confluence with the Beaverhead River. Hoot owl restrictions prohibit fishing each day between 2 p.m. and midnight.  

This closure is in accordance with the Big Hole Watershed Committee Drought Plan, which calls for restrictions when water temperatures exceed 73 degrees for three or more consecutive days, or when other thresholds are met. Restrictions of this nature are enacted to protect fish species like Arctic grayling, rainbow trout and brown trout, which all become more susceptible to disease and mortality when conditions like low flows and high temperatures combine with additional stressors.  

This section of the river will reopen when daily peak temperatures are below 70 degrees for three consecutive days, but no later than Sept. 15.

Find other closures and restrictions from MTFWP here.

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Monday, Aug. 5th, 2019

Dean Adams selected as director of MSU’s Center for Faculty Excellence


Dean Adams, acting dean of Montana State University’s College of Arts and Architecture, has been selected as the new director of MSU’s Center for Faculty Excellence.

The Center for Faculty Excellence supports the professional development of tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty in areas such as teaching, research, creativity, outreach and leadership. Adams will oversee and implement faculty development programs in coordination with other academic areas, including orientations, workshops, discussion groups, mentoring opportunities and several grant programs offered through the MSU provost’s office.

Adams has been a faculty member in the MSU College of Arts and Architecture School of Art since 2010. From 2017 to 2019, he was associate dean of the college and in February was named acting dean. Adams is also the co-founder and co-director of the International Wild Clay Research Project, an interdisciplinary teaching, learning and research endeavor in the School of Art. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in ceramics and drawing from the University of Iowa, as well as a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from MSU.

Adams will begin serving as director once he completes his duties as acting dean of the College of Arts and Architecture. He will report to Senior Vice Provost David Singel.

Adams succeeds Marilyn Lockhart, who recently announced her retirement.

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Study finds native bighorn sheep herds retain migratory diversity


On the surface, bighorn sheep migration is like that of many other large mammals, moving to higher elevations as snow melts in the springtime then returning to lower ground to forage as winter sets in.

But a study published this month by Montana State University researchers has delved deeper, finding diverse patterns of migration among different sheep populations. Understanding these patterns could one day help wildlife officials make more informed management decisions.

The paper, “Characterizing population and individual migration patterns among native and restored bighorn sheep (Ovis Canadensis),” was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in July. 

“This paper is the first to quantify migratory diversity in ungulates and start to ask questions about how our understanding of migratory diversity can influence sheep populations and their restoration,” said lead author Blake Lowrey, who is now a postdoctoral researcher in MSU’s Department of Ecology in the College of Letters and Science. Lowrey completed his Ph.D. in November.

The paper draws from an extensive data set compiled by the Greater Yellowstone Mountain Ungulate Project and the Montana Bighorn Initiative, both of which are led by MSU ecology professor and co-author Robert Garrott. Data was collected from 209 female bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains in collaboration with national parks, state wildlife agencies, land managers and researchers in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado. Rather than focus on a single herd, the partnership allows for comparative studies across 18 populations of bighorn sheep.

Between 2008 and 2017, researchers fit bighorn sheep with GPS collars to track their movements. Blood was drawn to obtain measures of health in each animal. Nasal and tonsil swabs provided insight for disease and pathogen work. According to Garrott, it’s the largest coordinated research effort on bighorn sheep ever undertaken.

“Putting that all together provides a really rich data set to address a number of important topics related to bighorn sheep management,” Garrott said.

Lowrey, a spatial ecologist who studies distribution of animal species over the landscape, used the locations collected from the GPS collars to investigate migration patterns in the bighorn sheep. He defined core summer and winter ranges for individuals and measured elevation and geographic distances between the ranges. These migration patterns were then compared between types of herds: native herds that have never been removed from their historic ranges and herds within the historic bighorn sheep range in the Rockies but had been restored or augmented through species translocation.  

“Migratory patterns in ungulates are thought to be learned,” Lowrey said. “If you remove animals from the landscape, you lose the herd memory needed to maintain a diversity of migratory patterns.”

In his research, Lowrey found not only do the bighorn sheep in native populations tend to migrate more on average, they also exhibit longer migrations and have more diversity in how they migrate. Sheep within a single native herd may migrate upward of 25 miles, they may travel short distances between high and low elevations, or they may stay at high elevations year-round. Yet within the restored and augmented populations, there is less variety. Most individuals have the same relatively short migration or do not migrate at all.

“Blake’s work is the first that has really demonstrated this contrast in migratory diversity between restored and native populations,” Garrott said.

While researchers have yet to determine what effect these patterns may have on bighorn sheep populations, Lowrey notes that diversity has important benefits in migratory fish and bird populations.

“Practically, it’s not putting all of your eggs in one basket,” he said. “Without migratory diversity, an extreme winter event or other negative factor could negatively impact all of the population. Migratory diversity may buffer bighorn sheep and not expose all of the population to the same harmful conditions.”

As part of his dissertation, Lowrey published papers on mountain goat habitat and range expansion, disease in mountain goats, and the niche overlap between native bighorn sheep and introduced mountain goats. And he said there’s more coming. Lowrey also plans to look at the effect of landscape characteristics such as spring green-up, road density and other development as factors that may influence migratory patterns of bighorn sheep.

“The work that he’s doing is giving us a stronger knowledge of how animals use the landscape and what they might need,” Garrott said. “This knowledge should help inform restoration and management in the future.”

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Thursday, Jul. 25th, 2019

Montana Ranchers Can Now Get Paid to Sequester Carbon Using Rotational Grazing Practices

With the help of key collaborators, the Western Sustainability Exchange is helping farmers adopt rotational grazing management plans that improve carbon sequestration by providing them with a way to sell carbon credits through NativeEnergy.

CO2, or carbon, is a dirty word these days–and for good reason. Due to a number of causes including the burning of fossil fuels and widespread deforestation, there is far too much CO2 being returned to the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2017 the United States emitted 5.1 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide, while the global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide totaled 32.5 billion metric tons.

Despite the grim outlook, there are ways of reversing the abundance of CO2, including sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. An entire marketplace has developed around CO2 mitigation that enables CO2 emitting industries to purchase carbon credits from businesses engaged in offsetting activities, such as the production of renewable energy through wind farms or biomass energy, as well as energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural byproducts, reducing landfill methane, and forestry projects.

The price that the company pays for these credits is used to support projects and businesses that help sequester carbon. In general, a carbon credit gives the purchaser the right to emit one ton of CO2.

There is a voluntary carbon offset market, but some larger companies are required by law to purchase carbon credits to offset their carbon-producing activities in the so-called compliance market.

For the Western Sustainability Exchange, there’s no reason that the carefully managed, rotational grazing of livestock can’t also qualify for the carbon credit market.

“We have been working with ranchers to implement rotational grazing for about 25 years since we started. That was one of our founding principles: to manage land better through grazing animals,” Chris Mehus, ranching program director at WSE, told AFN. “Carbon credit broker Native Energy approached us about four years ago to discuss the concept of getting ranchers into a program that allows them to trade carbon credits and to get paid for using rotational grazing because of the carbon that it sequesters.”

In partnership with international carbon credit broker NativeEnergy, Syracuse University soil science organization Soils for the Future, and the US’ largest national park concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts, WSE is helping farmers figure out whether implementing rotational grazing practices make sense for their ranches through the Montana Grasslands Carbon Initiative.

What’s Rotational Grazing?

Essentially, rotational grazing mimics the way that large herds of bison would migrate through North America’s grasslands centuries ago.

Rotational grazing involves controlling livestock’s access to pastures, allowing animals to graze in designated paddocks for limited periods of time. The livestock are rotated to fresh pasture before they graze the grass down to the ground. This provides the grazed pastures with ample time to rest so that the leaf matter can regrow. The more leaf matter a plant has, the more sunlight it can process through photosynthesis and the longer its roots will be. These root systems are key to maintaining healthy soils.

Using ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats to manage grasslands also helps restore ecosystem balance as one type of forage is prevented from taking over and shading out other vital plant types. As they deposit manure more evenly through each pasture, it helps feed microorganisms in the soil that further enrich its health. Ensuring the presence of ample forage and allowing adequate rest also creates more habitat for wildlife.

If livestock are allowed unrestricted access to pasture, they graze it down to the ground exposing the soil and killing off their favorite forages entirely, allowing other forages to take over. Overgrazing is a major cause of plant destruction, soil compaction and erosion, and water pollution resulting from runoff.

“Higher stocking densities on pastures, shorter grazing periods, longer rest periods – all of those things equate to healthier plants, a greater plant diversity, and more plants on the soil surface, which equates to more roots in the soil, which means more carbon sequestered,” Mehus explains.

Certifying and Paying for Soil Sequestration

WSE has brought together various players to help pay farmers for making the transition to rotational grazing.

Using Soils for the Future’s computer modeling system that predicts the amount of carbon that can be sequestered through rotational grazing, NativeEnergy is certifying the predictions through the world’s leading program for the certification of GHG reduction, the Verified Carbon Standard. Xanterra has signed on as the first carbon credit purchaser for the program.

“There aren’t many business models that are higher risk than farming and ranching, so by nature, these ranchers are risk-averse. They’ve learned that you have to be very careful with your decisionmaking and your capital because you don’t have a lot of it to spend on improvements. Avoiding big risks is something that I think has been built into their thinking.” Mehus explains. “By offering them financial investment through this program, it gives them an opportunity to take this risk without having to use their own capital or borrow money.”

WSE works closely with each rancher through the enrollment process to create a rotational grazing plan that fits each rancher’s land and management goals. Any infrastructure needs including fencing, range riding, and water systems are included in the plan, as well as education about regenerative grazing.

Farmers can take one of two 30-year contracts: the first track offers immediate financing to help cover the infrastructure costs of following a rotational grazing plan, and the second provides a regular payment structure for ranchers who don’t need the upfront financial investment.

Although a three-decade commitment may cause some ranchers to balk, the timeframe is necessary for the carbon credit purchaser to know that its investment will yield enough carbon credits over the course of the project. Ranchers also have to keep records regarding their rotational grazing practices, including when animals are moved to a new pasture, how often they are moved, and how many days of rest a pasture had before it was regrazed.

In order to ease the management and recordkeeping burden, WSE has enlisted the help of two agtech startups, PastureMap and Maia Grazing that both provide a comprehensive software platform for rotational graziers.

“These are records that ranchers should be keeping anyway, but many of them have lifetimes and generations of experience that helps them intuitively understand the land, grass, and soil health. Putting more of that down on paper or in these digital tools can help others see the benefits of a more deliberate grazing plan, however,” Mehus explains.

In order to vet the project’s sequestration powers, the partners are conducting baseline monitoring on 165 sites throughout Montana to measure the current carbon baseline level in the soil. The samples will be sent to Soils for the Future’s lab to validate the model’s predictions.

So far, 34,000 acres have been enrolled in the program spanning four ranching operations.

A Major Tipping Point for the Livestock Industry?

For many conventional ranchers, switching to a rotational grazing system may seem overwhelming, especially when the ranch spans several thousand acres. Once a rotational grazing system is in place and the animals are trained to move to fresh pasture, however, the system is usually more efficient and less time-consuming compared to feeding grain year-round or feeding hay during winter.

“I think their hesitation is based on a misunderstanding of the potential of rotational grazing. Many of them feel that their energies are better spent elsewhere on their ranches such as irrigation improvement or farming hay fields,” Mehus says. “I won’t say rotational grazing is easy, but it’s less difficult than what they are imagining. And once they split up a few pastures with fence, add some water improvements, and move their livestock for a week or two, they start to see how easy it is and the benefits it provides. The cows learn that moving to new pasture means fresh forage and they practically move themselves once the gate is opened.”

To entice ranchers, WSE is also implementing an outreach campaign about the new opportunity including a rancher-oriented blog series called Ruminate on This. It’s also hosting ranch public ranch tours profiling the landowners who are already using rotational grazing and yielding serious benefits on their ranches – and pocketbooks – as a result.

NativeEnergy and WSE are recruiting additional carbon credit buyers including foundations, nonprofits, and businesses to buy the carbon credits through this program. The more carbon buyers WSE can recruit, the greater the number of ranchers that can participate in the program to sequester more carbon, and the healthier Montana’s grasslands will become.

WSE hopes to enroll 100,000 acres by this time next year. Although farmers can certainly adopt rotational grazing practices voluntarily, the added bonus of financial capital to help them transition their farming operations could help tip the scales when it comes to making regenerative agriculture mainstream in livestock production.

Regenerative Ag Initiatives are on the Rise

WSE is not the first to see agriculture’s viability as a carbon credit source. In June, Boston-based Indigo Agriculture unveiled its latest project, the Terraton Initiative, with the aim of sequestering one trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by incentivizing farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices.

According to Indigo, farmers can increase the level of carbon in their soils by an average of 0.5% globally, which could reverse the one trillion ton increase in atmospheric carbon since the Industrial Revolution.

Some of the practices that Indigo is encouraging farmers to adopt include no-till, crop rotation, reducing reliance on chemical and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and incorporating livestock. According to Indigo, the conversion of pastureland to cropland production has reduced soil organic carbon by a factor of 2-4 times in arid and humid climates.

Through a new marketplace called Indigo Carbon, the startup will facilitate an incentive payment per ton of captured carbon by food companies wanting to sell carbon-negative products. The credentials of the crops grown will be traceable through Indigo’s Transport service.

Indigo will guarantee farmers who join Indigo Carbon in the first year a price of $15 per ton of carbon, but ultimately this price will be set by supply and demand.

Another startup worth noting in the carbon sequestration space is COMET-Farm, a voluntary carbon reporting tool for farmers quantifying how much carbon they sequester from the atmosphere by implementing conservation practices on their land. The startup’s founder, Dr. Keith Paustian, received a $250,000 grant to accelerate the project as part of FoodShot Global’s recent Innovating Soil 3.0 contest

The 2018 Farm Bill also included funding for a new USDA pilot project that will incentivize farmers in a dedicated region, through payments, to adopt agricultural practices aimed at improving soil health and sequestering organic soil carbon.

And in Europe, Danone recently launched a regenerative dairy initiative in collaboration with animal health and wellness groups — MSD Animal Health, Neogen and FutureCow; animal nutrition and health company DSM; crop nutrition leader Yara; crop science company Corteva Agriscience; and farm data analytics and artificial intelligence startup Connecterra (one of AgFunder’s portfolio companies!). Netherlands-based Wageningen University and Research, renowned for its food and food production research, will be a research and advisory partner.

The time for regenerative agriculture, it appears, is now!

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Wednesday, Jul. 24th, 2019

MSU student receives $100,000 fellowship for honey bee research

A Montana State University doctoral student has received a $100,000 fellowship from a honey bee-focused nonprofit to advance his work studying antiviral defense mechanisms in bees.

Alex McMenamin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular Biosciences Program, partnered with MSU’s Microbiology and Immunology Department in the colleges of Agriculture and Letters and Science. McMenamin has been working with adviser Michelle Flenniken, an assistant professor in the Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology Department and co-director of MSU’s Pollinator Health Center, since 2015.

McMenamin was one of five finalists and two award winners for the Project Apis m. Costco Scholar Fellowship, given every three years to researchers who show promise as “tomorrow’s bee scientists.” The nonprofit gets its name from Apis mellifera, the scientific name for honey bees. It was founded by beekeepers in 2006 and supports honey bee research, forage for pollinator populations and best management practices for beekeepers nationwide. The fellowship will provide funding for the next two years of McMenamin's research, which focuses on key proteins involved in honey bee antiviral defense, including a class of proteins called “heat shock proteins.”

“Heat shock proteins are special proteins that help maintain the proper structure of other proteins,” McMenamin said. “These proteins are also involved in a variety of ways in responding to other stresses, including virus infection.” 

Flenniken said that while researchers are interested in the impact of viruses on overall honey bee colony health, McMenamin’s laboratory experiments help reduce the number of variables to consider and focuses on individual bees’ antiviral responses.

“Alex’s work focuses on investigating the impact of viruses at the individual bee and the cellular levels, so we can determine the mechanisms that bees use to defend themselves against viruses,” she said.

For McMenamin, who received a bachelor’s degree in immunology and infectious disease and a master’s in entomology from Pennsylvania State University, coming to MSU allowed the opportunity to collaborate with one of the best researchers in the field of honey bee virology. In 2011, Flenniken was part of a team that discovered a previously unknown bee virus, Lake Sinai Virus 2 (LSV2). McMenamin also utilizes that virus in his studies.

“That virus is very important because even though LSV2 is extremely prevalent and globally distributed we’re not sure how it affects honey bee health,” he said. “But, in some studies, LSV2 has been associated with poor colony health.”

McMenamin initially intended to pursue medical school when he began his studies at Penn State, but early in his undergraduate studies he took an entomology course and fell in love with studying honey bees. He became an undergraduate research assistant and focused his research on the health and behavior of Kenyan honey bees.

When he came to MSU, McMenamin also worked in the Wiedenheft Lab and Young Lab as part of the Molecular Biosciences Program’s rotations for first-year students. Research in the Wiedenheft Lab focuses on bacterial immune systems and the cellular mechanisms that drive them. In the Young Lab, which focuses on viruses and human microbial processes, McMenamin conducted research on viruses native to some of Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs.

Those rotations are a unique element of the MBS program, which allows for an interdisciplinary approach to doctoral studies by partnering with departments and research centers around the university. McMenamin credits the ready access to such diverse resources as one of the defining elements of his time at MSU.

“In addition to being in the lab of an expert, MSU is a small school with a lot of resources I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise,” he said. “It’s easy to make friends and colleagues across campus, and I’ve appreciated that a lot.”

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Where Rivers Run

Living in this beautiful town, we may not always realize how truly fortunate we are to have as much access to the rivers as we do in and around the Gallatin Valley and in such short distances. Around this time, as July comes to a close and August arrives, we ask ourselves the same question: Where did summer go? As much as I could dwell over the short summer remaining, I’d like to approach August with an open mind. Even with the harsh high temperatures, fire-inducing wind, and ever increasing back-to-school advertisements in the newspaper, the fleeting days can still be enjoyed outside.

If you can relate to any of these feelings, I share this list with you in the hope you will share with others, and they will inevitably share their go-to August adventures with you. We Montanans didn’t endure eight months of snow to succumb to an abbreviated version of our beloved summer. June is fleeting and often wet and gloomy, July is booming, and August is all the sweeter, knowing what is sure to follow. So, in a short salute to August in Montana, be sure to partake in every last best thing what’s left of the summer has to offer.

Seeking relief from the heat, most of us run to the nearest body of water. Rivers abound within a short drive from Main Street. For top-notch fishing, floating, rafting, kayaking, or just simply jumping in for a swim to relieve the heat of the day, I recommend the following:

Gallatin River ~ 16.1 miles from Bozeman
With a wide-ranging variety of water to experience, the scenery and serenity on the Gallatin is hard to beat. Thanks to the increasing number of pullouts on the side of the highway, fishing along the uppermost section requires as little as pulling off the road and walking down to the river. Whitewater rafting is popular in the wild currents near Big Sky. Below the Gallatin Canyon, there are many access points to wade and cast lines. Best fishing recommended is around mid-to late summer, but fish can be caught on any given day of the year on the Gallatin.

Madison River ~ 26.8 miles from Bozeman
A stretch of this river is known as “The Bikini Hatch” because of floating popularity from Warm Springs to Black’s Ford. This is a crowded section, so fishermen need to go early in the morning or further downstream from the Bikini Hatch into the lower Madison towards Three Forks. A boat can be helpful to cover the vast distance from one hole to the next.

Jefferson River ~ 51 miles from Bozeman
The Jefferson runs along state highways starting from Twin Bridges and to Whitehall, Willow Creek, then Three Forks. It flows through mainly private land, but there are eleven official access sites, seven with boat ramps. The gentle flows also make for a peaceful float, and the Williams Bridge is the ultimate ending of the float to do some bridge jumping. Even though it’s the shortest (83 miles) of the three tributaries that make up the Missouri, the Jefferson is big and wide with a slow and steady flow. It’s an ideal destination to cool off in these summer months.

Yellowstone River ~25.9 miles from Bozeman
The expansive landscape and big open water make the stretch of the Yellowstone from Livingston to Big Timber a favorite with guides and locals. The size and braided channels makes drift boating an unforgettable experience. It is very much known to be a fisherman’s paradise from early August until the cooler days of September, considered to be the most amped up time to fish the lower Yellowstone. Casting oversized grasshopper flies to rainbow and brown trout is about as good as it gets.

Firehole ~105.5 miles from Bozeman
You’ll find a local favorite swimming hole toward the end of Firehole Canyon Drive past West Yellowstone and through the park entrance. Beaches line the side of this stretch to lay out on. The water is warm and brilliantly blue, flowing through a deep canyon for a unique experience in swimming.

Boiling River ~ 75 miles from Bozeman
Located just 2.9 miles south of the north entrance to Yellowstone, you’ll find this must-stop spot where Mammoth Hot Spring enters the Gardiner River, making the hot and cool waters collide and create just the right temperature to soak in. This natural spring makes a great place to stop and relax in the daytime along the way (to or from) adventuring in the park. The only period of time the hotspot is closed is during the spring when the river rises and becomes dangerous, sometimes not even opening 'til mid-summer some years.  

People come from all over the world to fish Montana’s rivers. It can be intimidating at first for a beginner, but there’s no other feeling quite like hooking a fish on the end of a line and reeling in the first one. Fly-fishing is a purely recreational activity. The best rivers in Montana to fish are right in our surrounding area. Many of us find therapy and meaning through fishing. It is something we choose to get out and do. We are lucky we get to fly fish and have access to streams and other waterways. Whatever it is you decide to do, whether it’s fishing, boating, or floating, take advantage of every day on the water and live it up. Be kind to your fellow boaters, anglers and non-anglers alike, and kind to the environment.  

August brings the heat, but it is also the perfect time to wade in rivers and streams as the water recedes just enough after the long winter (and wet spring) we’ve had. Missouri Headwaters State Park encompasses the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers. The geography, history and natural beauty of the confluence is an ideal August destination. Weather can often be unpredictable and change fast, so pack some snacks, water, rain jacket and water shoes, and venture out. No doubt it will feel great to say you’ve seen these places and done these fun things before summer comes to a bittersweet end.

“They say you forget your troubles on a stream, but that’s not quite it. What happens is that you begin to see where your troubles fit into the grand scheme of things, and suddenly they’re not such a big deal anymore.” –John Gierach

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