Climate science forums set in Miles City, Havre, Fort Peck


Scott Bischke

Sunrise along the Hi-Line.

Three climate science forums will be held in Eastern Montana next week, sponsored by the Montana Institute on Ecosystems.

The institute, jointly operated by Montana State University and the University of Montana, organized the first-ever Montana Climate Assessment, which was released in September.

The three forums will feature presentations from authors of that report, which was the first in a planned series of reports, and which focused on climate trends and their consequences on agriculture, water and forests.

Madison Boone, program and communications manager for the institute at MSU, said the forums will also feature panel discussions among local producers who have used climate science data to help them decide how to best to run their operations.

The forums are scheduled for:

♦ Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City.

♦ Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fort Peck Interpretive Center and Museum in Fort Peck.

♦ Friday, Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Northern Agricultural Research Center in Havre.

All of the forums are free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

In a press release, Kelsey Jensco, director of the Montana Climate Office at UM, said research into the the effects of climate change on Montana had previously been done at the regional or national levels, so the Montana Climate Assessment was the first to “look at these trends and their impacts at a local level.”

For input about what challenges climate change poses, and what information will be needed to decide how to deal with those challenges, authors of the report met with a variety of groups on the front lines, including the Montana Association of Conservation Districts, the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Grain Growers Association and the Montana Farmers Union.

“The 2017 Montana Climate Assessment can act as a tool to help the citizens of Montana understand past patterns in different regions of Montana and what the climate projections are for each so that projections can be used to inform long-range planning as a prudent business practice,” said Bruce Maxwell, lead author of the assessment’s agriculture chapter and co-director of the institute at MSU.

The institute, according to its website, was created to “enhance environmental and ecosystem science research, education, and engagement across the state and beyond.” The institute was approved by the Board of Regents in 2011 and was initially supported by a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It is now supported by from the vice presidents for research at UM and MSU.

Boone said the institute’s mission is to build a “connective network” among researchers across the state, and to connect their work “to the larger community of Montana.” The institute also brings in distinguished lecturers and created the Rough Cut Seminar Series, allowing faculty members from both schools to present the results of their research in open seminars.

In addition to the forums in Eastern Montana, Boone said, the institute has already put on a similar forum in Kalispell last month and will put one on in Hamilton in December.

Similar information will be presented by representatives of the institute to a wide variety of organizations, including presentations at conferences of graingrowers, stockgrowers and organic farmers and at the Sweet Grass County Chamber of Commerce, Boone said.

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