by Jocelyn Harris

In an effort to celebrate and highlight some of the best journalism happening in Montana, in environmental and science journalism as well as the good work being produced by our UM J-School alumni, each week, the School of Journalism is compiling these stories in this new feature: Good Work Wednesday. Look for it every week and if you have suggestions of journalism works we should highlight, email Good Work Wednesday curator and grad student Jocelyn Harris at

Top Montana news stories:

1. Indigenous Peoples Day: Beartracks Bridge in downtown Missoula dedicated (by David Erickson / Missoulian)

Loui James, right, waves a Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe flag as he walks across Beartracks Bridge in Missoula alongside his sister Jessi, left, during a dedication ceremony and renaming of the city’s historic downtown bridge on Oct. 10. On Monday CSKT, Séliš-Ql?ispéCulture Committee, Missoula County and the City of Missoula invited the general public to take part in the ceremony and celebration of Indigenous People’s Day. Photo by Antonio Ibarra / Missoulian. Ibarra is a 2022 graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism. Photo used with permission.
“It is so fitting to name this bridge in honor of Sxʷúytis Smx̣e, Grizzly Bear Tracks, a leader of the highest stature among the Salish people. This is a big moment in the building of mutually respectful relationships between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the city and county of Missoula," said Martin Charlo, CSKT Tribal Council secretary.

2. New Big Sky wastewater plant designed to protect Gallatin River from algal blooms (by Helena Dore / Billings Gazette)
“We’ll take this plant about as far as any plant can go in terms of removal of those nutrients, because they are what set off algal blooms in our watersheds,” said Scott Buecker, wastewater practice leader for the consulting firm AE2S Engineering.

3. Officials say fentanyl crisis in Montana is worsening (by Jonathan May / NBC Montana)

“With fentanyl in the area, it’s actually beginning to overtake meth as a drug of choice,” Missouri River Drug Task Force commander Nathan Kamerman said.

4. Local leaders meet to discuss increase in homelessness (by Denali Sagner / Flathead Beacon)

Excerpt: Kalispell’s homeless population is larger than that of bigger cities such as Billings, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Butte, an alarming point of comparison that community members discussed at length during the Oct. 6 meeting. 

5. Gianforte’s response to Biden request for marijuana pardons (Max Savage Levenson / Montana Free Press)

“The governor will continue to evaluate clemencies submitted through the Board of Pardons and Parole on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with [state] statute,” spokesperson Brooke Stroyke told Montana Free Press Friday.

Science and environmental stories:

  1. The bodies in the cave (by Rachel Monroe / The New Yorker)

Native people have lived in the Big Bend region for thousands of years. Who should claim their remains?

2. A California city’s water supply is expected to run out in two months (by Joshua Partlow / The Washington Post)

Excerpt: That looming threat has left city officials racing between meetings in Sacramento and phone calls to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation seeking to increase their water supply. Some residents have begun stockpiling five-gallon water jugs in their homes, while many expect major spikes in their water bills. If Coalinga can’t find relief, it would be forced to buy additional water on the open market at exorbitant prices that could swamp the city’s budget.

Student/Alumni Story of the week:

Critics worry Holland Lake Lodge plan would hurt the environment and nearby communities (by Austin Amestoy, ’22 / Montana Public Radio)

Amestoy, who graduated last spring, reports on a controversial plan for the storied Holland Lake Lodge in the Swan Valley. As always, Amestoy looks for the context, the undercurrent of the story, which in this case is the uniquely western tug-of-war among recreation, tourism, environmental and wildlife concerns and the gentrification of some of the west’s most beautiful places.

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