Weyerhaeuser Reopens Western Montana Lands to Public Access

Predicted rain and cooler temperatures are offering welcome relief to the region’s hot, smoky conditions

By Beacon Staff
Weyerhaeuser facilities in Columbia Falls on June 22, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Weyerhaeuser Company announced Thursday that it is reopening its lands to public access across Western Montana.

The company closed access Sept. 5 due to high fire danger, but recent changes in weather prompted the ban to end.

Predicted rain and cooler temperatures are offering welcome relief to the region’s hot, smoky conditions but fire restrictions will likely remain in place for the immediate future, according to fire officials. Among the restrictions, campfires are still prohibited in the outdoors.

“We are asking the public to be patient just a little while longer,” said Ali Ulwelling, fire information officer for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. “Many people have been affected by wildfires this summer, and we will wait to lift Fire Restrictions until fuel conditions reflect that it is appropriate. Fuel conditions have been tracking at historically dry levels, and even breaking records. Fire danger will remain extreme until northwest Montana receives a generous amount of moisture over several days.”

Weyerhaeuser’s lands in Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Missoula, Sanders and Ravalli counties have been reopened to public access.

The consensus among public and private stakeholders remains in favor of keeping restrictions in place until a few days of substantial moisture is received, Ulwelling said. The stakeholders include Kootenai and Flathead National Forests; Montana DNRC; Glacier National Park; Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; and Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties; Weyerhaeuser, Stoltze, and Stimson Lumber Companies.

“We know how anxious people are to get back to work, camping, and hunting in the woods this fall,” Ulwelling said. “Hopefully we’ll get a few days of soaking rain across the greater area, and, with any luck, that it will happen soon.”

For more information about fire restrictions, visit www.firerestrictions.us.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.