Friday Flash 9/3/21

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Please note there will be no Friday Flash on September 10. 

Wildland Fire Information for Travelers

The Montana Department of Commerce provides relevant wildland fire updates and resources for tourism partners and the traveling public at MARKETMT.COM. The page is updated as fire activity impacts popular destination areas and includes information on wildland fires, fire restrictions, smoke and air quality across Montana. 

Recreate Responsibly & Fire Awareness Toolkits 

The Montana Office of Tourism is committed to keeping Montana’s outdoor spaces, communities, residents, and visitors safe. As part of this initiative, the Montana Office of Tourism has developed toolkits with resources to help you educate residents and visitors on safe travel best practices when it comes to wildland fires and safety.  

The Recreate Responsibly and Fire Safety & Awareness toolkits contain print and digital templates that may be customized to reflect a website for your organization, community, or business. You can download toolkits by clicking here

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 16 CVBs, the Montana Tourism Advisory Council and specific industry stakeholders. The calls are held on the fourth Wednesday, every other month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Barb Sanem or call her at 406.841.2769. 
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021
  • October 4-5, 2021—TAC Meeting (Location TBD)
  • October 20, 2021—Region/CVB 1st Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due 
  • January 20, 2022—Region/CVB 2nd Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due
  • February 7-8, 2022—TAC Meeting (Location TBD)
  • April 20, 2022—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due
  • July 20, 2022—Region/CVB 4th Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due

Tourism Grant Program

Tourism Grant Application Cycle Closes September 15! 

The FY22 application cycle of the Tourism Grant Program will close promptly at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15. Tourism grant funds are awarded through the annual application cycle to projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation products in Montana and have the potential to increase non-resident visitation and expenditures. For more information about the Tourism Grant Program, please visit our website at MARKETMT.COM

Made in Montana

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts is scheduled for September 10-11, 2021 in Helena at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. 

Montana Film Office


FY22 Big Sky Film Grant

The Montana Film Office is excited to announce that the Big Sky Film Grant fiscal year 2022 grant cycle opened on September 1, 2021 and will close November 1, 2021 at 11:59 p.m., MST.

Please share with any and all filmmakers you may know. Go direct to the Big Sky Film Grant page at MONTANAFILM.COM to learn how to apply.

Tribal News

State Tribal Economic Development Commission Elects New Chairwoman

Shelly R. Fyant was elected this week as the new Chair of the Montana State Tribal Economic Development Commission (STEDC). The newly elected Chairwoman is currently in her second three-year term with STEDC.

“I look forward to serving the goals set by the commission to expand and improve economic opportunities for each Tribal Nation in Montana,” Fyant said. “Creating income earning opportunities for people, whether from a small business or through secure employment, is a goal embraced by our Tribal Council.”

Representing the Arlee District, Fyant currently serves as Chairwoman for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and holds a Business Administration Degree from the University of Montana.

The STEDC works in a government-to-government relationship to expand and improve economic prosperity opportunities through business expansion, capital access, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and community development. The Governor appoints the members, including one from each of the eight tribal governments in Montana.

Established in the Native American Economic Development Act of 1999, the commission gathers for public meetings throughout Montana on a quarterly basis.

Other members include:

  • Richard Sangrey, Vice-Chair, Chippewa Cree Tribe
  • Cheryl Reevis, Blackfeet Tribe
  • Shawn Real Bird, Crow Tribe
  • Ray King, Fort Belknap Indian Community
  • Kaci Wallette, Fort Peck Tribes
  • Gerald Gray, Little Shell Tribe
  • Lane Spotted Elk, Northern Cheyenne Tribe
  • Misty Kuhl, Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs
  • Scott Osterman, Montana Department of Commerce

Fyant will replace longtime Chair, Shawn Real Bird. Click here for the press release. 

Outdoor Recreation

Montana Access Project Path Ahead Webinar Series:

September 14, 2021 (11:00 a.m.)—Unlocking the Power of Nature for All Accessibility and Inclusion in NatureIn this webinar, panelists will discuss challenges and forward-thinking solutions.

Key takeaways:

  • Explore why access to nature for all is important
  • Key challenges and barriers to high-quality recreation access for all abilities on Montana’s lands and waters
  • Highlight “Made-in-Montana” inspiring and innovative approaches, programs, and technologies that are unlocking the power of nature for all

For more information or to register for this webinar, click here

Mussel Boat Number 50 Intercepted

On Thursday, Aug. 26, watercraft inspectors at the Nashua station inspected an outboard motorboat with mussels on the transducer, gimbal and other areas of the transom. The motorboat was traveling from Lake Erie to Kalispell. This is the 50th mussel-fouled boat intercepted this year, surpassing the total number of 35 mussel-fouled boats intercepted in 2020.

The Nashua watercraft inspection station, located on Highway 2, is operated by the McCone Conservation District under a contract with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Statewide, 94,800 watercraft inspections have been conducted this year, slightly down from the 112,300 number of inspections conducted at this time last year.

FWP reminds anyone transporting motorized or nonmotorized boats into Montana that an inspection is required before launching, and stopping at ALL open watercraft inspection stations is required. Failing to stop at an inspection station can result in a fine of up to $500.

Boaters should ensure their watercraft, trailer and all equipment that is in contact with water (anchor, lines, swim ladder, etc.) is clean, drained of water and dry. Learn more at or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.

Heritage/Cultural News

The Montana Historical Society is pleased to offer six public programs in September, all of which are held at the Montana Historical Society, 225 N Roberts, in Helena.

  • September 9 (4:30 p.m.): Jim Bridger: Trailblazer of the American West—Author talk and book signing with Jerry Enzler. Even among iconic frontiersmen, Jim Bridger stands out. A mountain man of the American West, who straddled the fur trade era and the age of exploration, Bridger lived the life from which legends are made. Enzler gives this outsize character his due in a story that would do Jim Bridger proud.
  • September 11 (10:30 a.m.): Montana Murders: Notorious and Unsolved—Author talk and book-signing with Brian D’Ambrosio. Award-winning Montana author Brian D’Ambrosio examines the most notorious murders in the state’s history. Some are historical accounts from Montana’s early Wild West history, but most are contemporary cases that shocked communities, investigators, and families. This program is offered as part of Second Saturday at MHS. Sponsored by Intrepid Credit Union, Second Saturday at MHS features free admission all day long and drawings for door prizes.
  • September 15 (10:45 a.m.): Scandal at the Montana State Highway Commission!—Jon Axline, Montana Department of Transportation Historian. When Governor Elmer Holt accused the state highway commissioners of malfeasance in 1936, it sparked an ugly process that eventually involved the Montana Supreme Court and a Helena newspaper reporter named Paul Maclean, who was later made famous in A River Runs through It.
  • September 16 (4:30 p.m.): Making Your Mark: 148 Years of Recording Montana Brands and Marks—Zoe Ann Stoltz, MHS Reference Historian. The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of Montana’s first livestock brand re-record. Discover the wealth of Montana history contained in this collection that covers the years 1873 to 2010. Learn how to conduct your own brand research using the Livestock Brands collection on the Montana Memory Project website.
  • September 23 (6:30 p.m.): History of the Czechs in Montana and Elsewhere in the Northwest—Dr. Martin Nekola, coordinator of the Czechoslovak Talks Project. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, thousands dreamed of leaving Bohemia for U.S., the “country of endless hope.” They were driven by a vision of better living conditions and quick riches, as well as a desire to escape political, religious, and national oppression. Nekola will detail their story, focusing on the Czechs who settled in this region.
  • September 30 (noon): The Day that Finally Came—Humanities Montana speaker and independent Métis scholar Chris La Tray. Montana’s Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians recently became the 574th Indian tribe to be recognized by the U.S. government, after nearly 150 years of trying. La Tray draws on stories from historians to reveal the larger reality behind the “Little Shell” name. The program helps people better understand the Little Shell, and their part in the history of North America. This program is offered as part of The Myrna Loy’s celebration, One Robe: Métis Culture Festival and tribute to Nicholas Vrooman.
  • September 30 (4:30 p.m.): Historic Tales of Whoop-Up Country: On the Trail from Montana's Fort Benton to Canada's Fort Macleod—Author talk and book-signing with Ken Robison. In 1870, Montana traders Johnny Healy and Al Hamilton moved across the Medicine Line and built Fort Whoop-Up. It established the two-hundred-mile Whoop-Up Trail from Fort Benton, through Blackfoot lands, to the Belly River near today’s Lethbridge. Over the next decade, the buffalo robe trade flourished with the Blackfoot, as did violence. The turmoil forced the creation of Canada’s Northwest Mounted Police, tasked with closing down the whiskey trade and evicting the Montana traders.

For information on these and other programs, visit the Montana Historical Society website

Montana in the News
Tourism Partner Shout-Outs, Recognition and News


Southeast MontanaHello Montana – Visit SouthEast Montana, Day Trips and Weekend Getaways—Brenda Maas from the Visit Southeast Montana Tourism Region discusses the effort to promote travel in the area. In this segment on Hello Montana, she talked about day trips, what to see and look for as fall colors hit the plains and using their website to plan out routes for exploring Southeast Montana.


New Report from ITRR

2020 Economic Contribution of Nonresident Travel Spending in Montana Travel Regions—During a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, nonresident travelers spent just over $3 billion in Montana. This report looks at how the money spent was distributed across the six Montana travel regions, and is based on estimated 2020 traveler spending data. Unlike previous iterations of this report, a two-year average is not used given the COVID disruptions. Read the full report here

Other News

Twenty-three Communities Set to Participate in MSU Extension’s Reimagining Rural Program

Twenty-three rural Montana communities are set to participate in a Montana State University Extension program that focuses on providing Montana’s small towns with opportunities to shape their future.

The Reimagining Rural virtual gathering is a series of three evening events where people come together in their communities to listen to virtual speakers discuss positive examples of successful rural communities. Following the speakers, local groups will discuss how those ideas might work in their community. The program is intended to bring residents together to brainstorm ideas for enhancing local communities and to build excitement and pride.

Participating communities include Arlee, Carter County, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Columbus, Cut Bank, Daniels County, Forsyth, Glendive, Hays, Hysham, Malta, Manhattan, Miles City, Plevna, Powder River County, Powell County, Roundup-Winnett, Sidney, St. Regis, Toole County, Valier, White Sulphur Springs and Worden-Ballantine.

Sessions are set for Sept. 13, Sept. 27 and Oct. 3. Each session will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. As part of the series, featured speaker Ben Winchester of the University of Minnesota Extension will share research on the rural “brain gain,” including new research by MSU Extension about who is moving to rural Montana communities and why. Other speakers include community leaders from around Montana that have launched successful local projects, including a summer concert series, a community-wide tourism and branding strategy, and a nonprofit childcare center using an abandoned school. Members of the Winnett community will discuss success in revitalizing their community, which included a beef to schools program, a new community center and a housing project. Read more from MSU News here.

Funding Resources

CARES Act Funding Available

Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the State of Montana, Department of Commerce was awarded Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG CARES) to support communities as they respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible applicants include towns, cities, and counties. Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula – known as entitlement areas – are eligible applicants for CDBG CARES, but CDBG CARES regulations limit the amount of CDBG CARES the State of Montana can award to these entitlement areas. Other entities such as tribes, non-profits, public housing authorities, etc., although not eligible directly, may apply in partnership with an eligible applicant.

Applications due by September 15. Learn more and apply today at COMDEV.MT.GOV.

Other Events/Dates to Note

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar Series—American Trails brings agencies, trailbuilders, advocates, and volunteers the latest in state-of-the-art information on all aspects of trails and greenways. Our webinars focus on a variety of trail topics, usually applicable to all trail types, with expert presenters. Webinar topics are chosen from current cutting-edge trail topics selected from attendee/presenter suggestions as well as recent popular conference sessions. For more information, visit or click on individual webinar links below. 

Upcoming webinars:

September 7-9, 2021FWP Director, Deputy Director Hosting Open Houses Around the State—Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks director, deputy director and members of their staff will be visiting regional offices during a tour of the state in August and September. Director Hank Worsech and Deputy Director Dustin Temple invite the public to join them at regional FWP offices for open houses.

All meetings will run from 5:00–8:00 p.m. The remaining open house meetings are scheduled for the following dates/locations: 

  • September 7: Region 3 Headquarters in Bozeman, 1400 South 19th
  • September 8: Region 5 Headquarters in Billings, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive
  • September 9: Region 7 Headquarters in Miles City, 352 I-94 Business Loop

“It’s been a busy year and we know people have a lot of things they’re interested in discussing,” said Worsech. “This is a great opportunity for us to hear directly from the public on topics they’re passionate about.” FWP ensures its meetings are fully accessible to those with special needs. To request arrangements, call FWP at 406.444.3186.

September 23–25, 202148th Annual Montana History Conference (Butte)—After a year of isolation and social distancing, the Montana Historical Society is excited to gather with our friends for “A Blast from the Past! Mining Montana History.” The Montana History Conference is an annual gathering of history enthusiasts from across the state and the nation.

The conference begins on Thursday with workshops ranging from re-registering your livestock brand to tips for getting your historical books and articles published. Thursday also offers an educators’ workshop and the ever-popular, daylong Made in Montana Tour.

Thursday evening finds us in historic Uptown sampling “A Taste of Butte” in a progressive reception featuring the Elks Club, Headframe Distillery, and 51 Below Speakeasy. Afterward, the adventurous can join Ellen Baumler for tales of historical otherworldly encounters followed by a visit to some of Butte’s most haunted places.

On Friday and Saturday, conference sessions will feature a wide array of speakers and topics including scandals at the State Highway Commission and the State Normal College in Dillon, to the Great Explosion of 1895 and tales of Butte’s infamous “Galloping Gallows. For full program and registration information, click here.

September 27-30, 2021The 2021 NAISMA (North American Invasive Species Management Association) Annual Conference (In-person and virtual options to attend)—The NAISMA Board of Directors, Staff, and Planning Committee are excited for this year’s opportunity to bring a high quality agenda, professional development, and networking opportunities to invasive species managers in North America and beyond.

This year’s conference is a great deal for anyone who does invasive species management, research, policy, or outreach and education who are looking for an affordable professional development opportunity. For more information or to register, click here

October 17–20, 2021MLHA (Montana Lodging & Hospitality Association) Fall Tourism Conference and Trade Show (Whitefish)—Mark your calendar for the MLHA Fall Conference to be held in Whitefish at both the Grouse Mountain Lodge and The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

The event will kick off with a networking social Sunday, October 17, at 8:00 pm and conclude on Wednesday, October 20 at 10:30 am after the annual membership meeting. The Conference committee has an exciting program planned featuring dynamic speakers addressing relevant topics, a Trade Show showcasing our Allied Partners and a Tuesday evening Awards Banquet. For more information or to register, click here