Stage I Fire Restrictions Going into Effect in NW Montana

Submitted By LaRona Rebo, United States Forest Service


Interagency fire managers are implementing Stage I Fire Restrictions that will go into effect at 12:01am Saturday, July 29, 2023 across the Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, Glacier National Park, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation – Northwestern Land Office, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1, and Lincoln County, Flathead County, and Sanders County. Each year, 70 to 80% of wildfires are human-caused and this summer the trend has continued. Northwest Montana is currently experiencing drought conditions including extremely dry forest fuels; forecasts of temperatures above normal accompanied by low humidity, wind, and minimal precipitation; and competition for firefighting resources, as fires continue to burn across the State and the West. The intent of Fire Restrictions is to reduce fire risk and prevent wildfires during periods of high to extreme danger by decreasing potential sources of ignition. Please refer to the appropriate Fire Restrictions Order for the land you are visiting and for a complete list of what is and isn’t allowed.

Federal, State, and Private jurisdictions under Stage I restrictions include:

  • Flathead National Forest, including Hungry Horse, Glacier View, Swan Lake, Spotted Bear and Tally Ranger Districts to include the Great Bear Wilderness, Mission Mountain Wilderness, and the Flathead National Forest portion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. *NO recreation site campfire exemptions
  • Kootenai National Forest, including Rexford, Fortine, Three Rivers, Libby and Cabinet Ranger Districts. *NO recreation site campfire exemptions
  • Glacier National Park.
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service, Including Lost Trail and Swan River National Wildlife Refuge •Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, including Kalispell, Libby, Stillwater and Plains Units. State land & private classified forested lands • Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Region 1 within Flathead County, Lincoln County, Sanders County • Flathead County – Stage I fire restrictions • Lake County – No fire restrictions • Lincoln County – Stage I fire restrictions • Sanders County– Stage I fire restrictions.
  • Green Diamond – are not allowing campfires on their lands.
  • Flathead Ridge Ranch – prohibits campfires on their lands.
  • Southern Pine Plantation of Montana – Industrial Timberlands in Lincoln, Sanders, and Flathead Counties are not allowing campfires.
  • Stimson Private Timber Company – are not allowing campfires on their lands.
  • Stoltze Timber Company – are not allowing campfires on their lands.

Stage I Fire Restrictions Prohibit: The Following Acts Are Prohibited Until Further Notice: 1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire. 2. Smoking, 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.

Stage I Exemptions: 1. Persons with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act. 2. Persons using a device solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Such devices can only be used in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding materials within three feet of the device. 3. Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice. 4. Any Federal, State, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty. 5. All land within a city boundary is exempted.

Review local ordinances specific to jurisdiction. 6. Other exemptions unique to each agency/tribe.

Violations: 1) You could be fined up to $5,000 individually or $10,000 for an organization and imprisoned up to 6 months for violating restrictions and closures. 2) You can be held liable for all suppression costs and damages if you start a fire.

For current wildfire and restrictions information please visit: Know your risk and do your part to prevent accidental wildfire ignitions this summer. • Never discard cigarettes, matches or smoking materials on the ground. • Maintain and clean any logging, farming, or lawn equipment before use. • Ensure trailer chains are properly secured to prevent dragging which can cause sparks. • Avoid driving or parking your vehicle, ATV, or UTV on dry grass. • Debris burning is prohibited in NW Montana during July, August and September.

Governor Gianforte Drought Disaster Push for Montana Counties

Governor Greg Gianforte today called on U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to identify 11 counties, including several in northwest Montana, as primary natural disaster areas. The governor’s statewide drought disaster declaration remains in effect.

“With unusually low snowpack and hot, dry conditions in northwest Montana, it is imperative that the U.S. Department of Agriculture aid Montana communities in accessing critical resources, such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Conservation Program, and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, to respond to continue severe drought conditions on the ground,” the governor wrote in a letter to Secretary Vilsack.

The governor requested drought declarations for Montana counties facing moderate to severe drought as of July 20, including Flathead, Lincoln, Glacier, Toole, Sanders, Lake, Pondera, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sheridan counties.

Currently, the USDA has not identified any Montana counties as drought disaster areas.

The governor continued, “The Flathead River in northwest Montana is currently flowing at approximately one-third of its July average. Additionally, Flathead Lake sits more than two feet below its full pool level. As a result of sustained dry, hot weather forecasted through the fall, officials project an above-normal fire season for northwest Montana.”

Stressing the devastating impact of drought conditions on Montana agricultural producers, the governor urged, “Relief is needed as swiftly as possible, particularly for our agricultural producers, who are seeing impacts to forage and stock water availability due to drought conditions and low water levels.”


Courtesy Of Logan Kruse

Officials Seeking

Information on Intentionally Set Wildfires


Submitted By LaRona Rebo, United States

Forest Service

Forest, State, and County officials are seeking any information on multiple, human-caused wildfires set by fireworks on the Jennings Haul Road on the Libby Ranger District. If you or anyone you know has any information on these fires, please contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 406-293-4112.

Officials are extremely concerned about the hot, dry conditions and urge the public to please use caution while recreating on the forest. The Kootenai National Forest is currently in very high fire danger. As a reminder, fireworks are always illegal on Federal and State lands, regardless of weather conditions.

We all play an important role in preventing human-caused wildfires. You can help prevent unwanted fires by ensuring your campfire is completely out, securing your chains when towing, avoid parking in tall, dry grass and recreating responsibly.