With parched timber and a bubbling-hot thermometer, fire season sizzled in like a burger with too much grease slapped on the grill. In reaction this week, all of northwest Montana upped fire restrictions to Stage I with Stage 2 smack on its tail beginning Monday, July 30.
Until Monday, campfires are still permitted in local developed recreation sites with metal or concrete fire pits—like those found in campgrounds and picnic areas at Dickey, Murphy, Tally, Sylvia, Ashley, Whitefish, and Upper Whitefish Lakes. But after Stage II restrictions take effect, no campfires are permitted. Outdoor smoking is also restricted, motorized vehicles are not allowed off roads and trails, and hoot owl work hours are enforced. As Whitefish Mountain Resort at Big Mountain puts in place annual fire emergency measures, Whitefish Golf Club instigated its own restrictions.
While local trails are still open for hiking, including the Danny On Trail to the top of Big Mountain, Whitefish Mountain Resort has prepped for potential fire. The resort filled the snowmaking ponds and moved snow guns into position for spraying water. “Crews and contractors installing the new lifts are outfitted with water pumps, shovels, and pulaskis to handle sparks from equipment,” says Chester Powell, Director of Operations.
Whitefish Golf Club also jumped on the fire prevention bandwagon. The board voted to ask golfers to refrain from smoking on the golf course until further notice.
Surrounding Whitefish, Stage II restrictions are in effect for Kootenai National Forest, Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, all northwest Montana counties, Stillwater State Forest, and Montana DNRC lands.
As proof of how easily sticks light up these days, we recently had a one-match campfire even with rain-soaked wood. That’s certainly the last for until fall rains.
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