Missoula BLM prepares for prescribed burns in Blackfoot River watershed

BLM Office:

Western Montana District Office



Media Contact:

David Abrams

The Bureau of Land Management’s Missoula Field Office is getting ready for prescribed burning in the Blackfoot River Corridor in the coming weeks. 


If conditions allow the BLM plans to burn multiple units within Missoula County ranging in size from 40 acres to 650 acres this fall along Blackfoot River between Nine Mile Prairie and Johnsrud Park.  


These prescribed burns will likely occur between mid-September and the end of October, dependent on weather and fuel conditions and would be carried out with a combination of aerial ignition by helicopter and ground ignition using drip torches.  


“Wildfire activity has moderated across the region.” noted Dan Poole, Fire Management Specialist with the Missoula Field Office. “We want to be prepared to make progress on our fuels treatment projects when weather conditions turn favorable.”   


Each of these burns will produce smoke and could take several 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 coordinating 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 and more recently has also provided prescribed burn support. 


Missoula BLM managers have been keeping a close eye on recent weather forecasts and feel the timing could be right in the upcoming weeks for a prescribed burn in the Blackfoot. “If we get the conditions needed, these prescribed burns would be intentionally ignited and managed to create defensible space and restore forest health.”  said Missoula Field Manager Erin Carey.


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 accelerating tree growth to create large-diameter Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and western larch forests and will create intermittent openings to allow for increased amounts of forbs, shrubs, and grasses.  


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


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.