BLM announces winter season prescribed fire plans

(LEWISTOWN, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) North Central Montana District plans to conduct up to five prescribed fire operations during the coming winter, district fire management officials announced today. 

“The implementation and timing of these burns is dependent on weather and fuel conditions being optimal for safe operations,” said NCMD Fire Management Specialist and Fuels Program Manager Mike Solheim. “It’s difficult to predict exactly when those conditions will occur, so we wanted to let the public know these burns are on our to-do list and will happen during the coming months.” 

Smoke impacts are carefully considered in coordination with county and state smoke and air quality managers.   

The Camp Creek pile burn will cover 25 acres of hand piles on BLM administered lands. The piles are located approximately 1.5 miles northeast of Zortman, Montana, and one-quarter mile east of the Camp Creek campground on the northwest slope. The burn will promote forest health and reduce hazardous fuels by creating a shaded fuel break near the Camp Creek campground and the town of Zortman. This prescribed fire will be ignited during the winter months between November and April, and active ignition should be completed in two to three days. 

The Petroleum County Road pile burn consists of burning 5 acres of hand piles comprised of Rocky Mountain juniper and ponderosa pine on BLM administered lands. These piles are located on the Dunn Ridge Road in Petroleum County approximately 23 miles northeast of Winnett, Montana. The purpose of the project is to create a fuel break that will enhance access and aide in suppression efforts in the event of a future catastrophic wildfire. Burning operations will take place during winter months with adequate snow or moisture. Ignition will be completed in one day, with minimal residual smoke expected.  

The Half Moon pile burn is located on the north side of the Little Snowy Mountains, approximately 20 miles south of Lewistown, Montana. This unit consists of 114 acres of hand piles and 329 acres of landing piles created during logging operations. The purpose of these project is to restore a healthy diverse, fire resilient forest structure by reducing stand density, conifer encroachment and fuel loads. Ignition will take place during the winter months with adequate snow and moisture. Active ignition is expected to take four to five days, with residual smoke expected from landing piles lasting several weeks.  

The Sleeping Buffalo cattail burn is located on the Sleeping Buffalo Wildlife Management Area approximately 2.5 miles east of Nelson Reservoir. These Bureau of Reclamation lands are administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The prescribed fire unit is 43 acres of cattails currently overtaking the wetland, reducing habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl. Ignition will occur in the winter months with snow present and is expected to last one day, with minimal smoke impacts after ignition.  

The Glasgow cattail burn is in South Valley County approximately 20 miles southeast of Glasgow, Montana. This prescribed fire includes 10 cattail choked decommissioned water pits totaling 4.5 acres on BLM administered land. The purpose of the prescribed fire is to reduce emergent vegetation that provides breeding ground for mosquitoes known as a primary vector for West Nile virus. Ignition will occur during the winter months when fuel conditions and weather allow for safe operations. Ignition is expected to take one to two days, with minimal smoke impacts. 

The BLM Fuels Management program is focused on active management to reduce wildfire risk, improve wildfire resiliency, and promote fire-adapted communities The program includes creating fuel breaks to provide safe access for firefighters, reducing fuel loads by removing ladder fuels, reducing fire risk near communities. Fuels management projects consider the full scope of work – planning, implementation, and monitoring – needed to achieve a coordinated landscape approach to reducing wildfire risk and restoring wildfire resiliency.  

For more information about these upcoming prescribed burns, call NCMD’s Fuels Program Manager Mike Solheim at 406-538-1976. 

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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