Missoula BLM plans prescribed burns in Blackfoot River watershed this week

(MISSOULA, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management's Missoula Field Office plans to conduct prescribed burning in the Blackfoot River watershed later this week.

On Thursday and Friday, the BLM plans to burn up to three small units totaling 140 acres along the lower Blackfoot River between Daigles Eddy and Thibodeau Rapids, approximately 15 miles northeast of Bonner.

The implementation and timing of these burns is dependent on weather and fuel conditions and will be carried out by crews on the ground using drip torches.

“This weekend brought the moisture, about a third of an inch, we needed to be ready to burn these specific units,” noted Steve Hancock, fire management specialist with the BLM Missoula Field Office.

The burns could produce smoke and could take one to two days to complete. Smoke impacts are carefully considered in coordination with smoke and air quality managers from Missoula County and the State of Montana.

The BLM is also working closely with staff from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation on these projects. In the Missoula Field Office, the DNRC provides fire suppression support for BLM-administered public lands.

“As wildfire season continues in other parts of the region and country, conditions on Missoula Field Office lands have moderated,” said BLM Missoula Field Manager Erin Carey. “These prescribed burns would be intentionally ignited and managed with local resources dedicated to the effort, with the objective of creating defensible space and restoring forest health.”

Prescribed fire is a critical tool to reduce hazardous fuels and restore historic vegetative conditions on the landscape. By removing the smaller vegetation, or “ladder fuels,” land managers can create fuel breaks that can serve to reduce wildfire intensity and provide firefighters more opportunities to safely engage wildfires.

Additionally, the prescribed burns will benefit wildlife by creating conditions that are essential for the health and restoration of large-diameter Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and western larch with intermittent openings of forbs, shrubs, and bunch grasses.

As conditions allow, the BLM Missoula Field Office could implement several additional burns in the larger Blackfoot watershed this fall ranging in size from 20 to 550 acres, using both ground and aerial (helicopter) resources.

For more information about the upcoming prescribed burns, call the Missoula Field Office at (406) 329-3869.


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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