Date: July 23, 2007
Contact: Ann Boucher, 406-896-5011
Babete Anderson, 406-657-6205 ext. 239
Weather Prompts Fire Restrictions and Closures
The continuing hot, dry weather is prompting land management officials to increase fire restrictions in south central Montana.
Stage II fire restrictions will go into effect at noon on Wed., July 25, on private, state and most federal lands in Sweet Grass, Carbon, Musselshell, and Yellowstone counties, and at 12:01 a.m. on Thurs., July 26, in Stillwater County. Stage II restrictions are already in effect in Treasure County and in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
One exception is the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area, which will enter Stage I restrictions at noon on Wed., July 25. Stage I restrictions are already in place and will continue in Big Horn County.
In addition, the Bureau of Land Management will close the Acton, Shepherd Ah Nei, and South Hills off-highway vehicle riding areas at noon on Wed., July 25.
There is an exemption for irrigated areas and agricultural harvesting in Carbon and Yellowstone counties, but those taking advantage of this exemption are urged to have equipment, including spark arrestors, in good working order. Please contact the appropriate county for more information and any necessary permits.
Stage II restrictions prohibit any open burning, including campfires, except in designated areas at Cooney Reservoir. Smoking is allowed only in areas cleared of all flammable materials. Motorized vehicles must stay on designated roads and trails. Operating an internal combustion engine, welding, or using explosives -- including fireworks -- is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Under Stage I restrictions, campfires are prohibited and smoking is allowed only in areas cleared of flammable materials. Exemptions for both Stage I and Stage II fire restrictions include fires fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG, or other activities for which there is a permit or written authorization. Please note that an exemption does not absolve an individual or organization from liability or responsibility for any fire started by the exempted activity. Anyone who causes a wildland fire intentionally or through negligence may be held accountable for damage and suppression costs.
Even in areas not under Stage I or Stage II restrictions, a permit is required for any open burning other than campfires. Drivers are also reminded that off-road travel is not allowed on most federal and state lands. Additional restrictions may also exist in certain areas. Before burning such things as slash piles, ditches, or fields, please contact your local fire department or sheriff’s office for more information and to obtain any necessary permits.
For more information about fire prevention, please contact the Custer National Forest at 406-657-6200; Bureau of Land Management at 406-896-5013; Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation at 406-247-4400; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks at 406-247-2940; Carbon County at 406-446-1595; Stillwater County at 406-321-0204; Sweet Grass County at 406-932-5143; or your local fire department or sheriff’s office.