Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Fire danger extreme, restrictions enacted

 

August 16, 2018



Fire danger has been increased to EXTREME across most of northwest Montana and many areas went into Stage I or Stage II Restrictions. It is the public’s responsibility to “Know before you go” by visiting http://www.firerestrictions.us/mt for the most current information.

This week was the hottest of the summer so far with temperatures hovering around 100° and high winds accompanying the cooler air last weekend. Scarce precipitation in the past month means that grasses and forest vegetation is continuing to dry and this trend is expected to continue. Any spark has the potential to ignite a wildfire.

Fire restrictions are considered when fire danger is high to extreme, but other factors such as availability of firefighting resources, large-fire activity in an area, and the number of human-caused wildfires are considered as well. So, while fire danger conditions may be extreme, not all areas are in fire restrictions at this time.

Interagency fire managers understand that fire restrictions affect the public and refrain from implementing restrictions until they are determined to be necessary. Fire restrictions are reevaluated by cooperating interagency fire managers each week and updated as the situation dictates.

“We can’t afford for anyone to be careless during activities that have the potential to start a fire, so we urge the public to be extremely cautious with ignition sources. We are also asking the public to be extremely cautious while operating equipment that can cause a wildfire ignition,” said the Missoula County Fire Protection Association in a press release.

West Central Montana fire managers decided to go into Stage II Fire Restrictions starting Aug. 10. Glacier National Park went into Stage II Restrictions Aug. 14 and the Northwest Zone Fire Management Area will enter Stage II Restrictions at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 16.

Stage II Fire Restrictions prohibit campfires. LPG stoves and grills that can be turned on and off are permitted area-wide. Generators with working spark arresters are permitted area-wide as long as they are in barren areas or areas cleared of burnable vegetation for three feet. Smoking is prohibited outside of buildings, vehicles and developed recreation sites, unless done in a three-foot diameter area cleared of all burnable vegetation. Operating a motor vehicle off-road is prohibited.

The following acts are prohibited from 1 p.m. - 1 a.m .: operating an internal combustion engine off road; welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame; using an explosive. A one-hour foot patrol in the work area is required following cessation of these activities.

Stage I Fire Restrictions prohibit campfires unless noted in the exemptions found on the http://www.firerestrictions.us/mt

website. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three-feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

As of Aug. 13 Stage II Restrictions are in effect for:

• Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, tribe trust, and tribal fee lands within the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

• Lee Metcalf, Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges and the National Bison Range

• Bitterroot National Forest

• Lolo National Forest

• Rattlesnake and Selway-Bitterroot Wildernesses

• Glacier National Park

• All state lands and classified private forested lands within the boundaries of Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties.

• All Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks fishing access sites, state parks and wildlife management areas within Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties.

• Missoula County open space and conservation lands.

• Private property outside of the city limits in Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders County with various exemptions.

• Lake County EXCEPT the areas east of the Mission Mountains (down the Swan) and north of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe Lands

Stage II Restrictions as of Aug. 16

• Flathead, Lincoln and Lake Counties

• Flathead and Kootenai National Forests

• DNRC NW Land Office Kalispell, Libby and Plains Units

As of Aug. 13, Stage I Restrictions are in effect for:

• Bureau of Land Management lands in Deer Lodge, Granite, Missoula and Powell counties. Campfires are allowed at the Thibodeau Campground and Garnett Ghost Town Picnic Area.

No Restrictions as of Aug. 13:

• Private property outside of the city limits and state lands within Granite and Powell Counties

• DNRC Stillwater and Swan Units

Bob Marshall Wilderness, Scapegoat Wilderness, Anaconda-Pinder Wilderness in Montana, portion of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area in Idaho and the Mission Mountains Wilderness outside of the Flathead Reservation

Forest industry professionals of Weyerhaeuser and Stoltze Lumber Companies are voluntarily applying best management practices by proactively ceasing operations during the hottest part of the day and enforcing a one-hour fire-watch before departing the site.

Fireworks are never allowed on public lands and they are NEVER a good idea during fire season!

Visit http://www.firerestrictions.us for up-to-date information. Some agencies and counties have enacted restrictions and exemptions unique to their areas.

The MCFPA recommends residents in Missoula County sign up for SMART 911 by visiting smart 911.com. Residents must register to receive these emergency alerts via text, email, or a phone call.

 

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