Fire Managers Rescind Stringent Restrictions Across Northwest Montana

Set to take effect this week, Stage II restrictions are removed as cool weather and recent rain have lowered fire danger

By Micah Drew
The West Lolo Complex Wildfire consists of numerous individual wildfires burning in the Lolo National Forest between St. Regis and Thompson Falls. Courtesy InciWeb

Interagency fire managers agreed to rescind stringent fire restrictions across Northwest Montana beginning this week due to recent rain and cooler temperatures across the region.

Stage II restrictions have been in place since July 26 as wildfire threat was considered extreme.

Federal and state jurisdictions rescinding Stage II restrictions on Wednesday are: Flathead National Forest lands outside the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas, in Flathead, Lake, Missoula, Lewis and Clark, and Powell counties; Kootenai National Forest lands in Flathead, Lincoln, and Sanders counties, as well as in Bonner and Boundary Counties in Idaho; Glacier National Park; Lost Trail and Swan River National Wildlife Refuge lands; Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) units in Kalispell, Libby, Stillwater, and the Swan Valley. State land and private classified forested land within Flathead, Lake and Lincoln Counties are also removed from restrictions, as are state lands in Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks‘ Region 1 within Flathead, Lake, Sanders, and Lincoln Counties.

In addition, the DNRC Plains unit and state land and private classified forested land in Sanders County will rescind restrictions on Aug. 26.

Private entities that were under Stage II restrictions include the region’s major timber companies and a private landowner, and several are still restricting some uses: Flathead Ridge Ranch, which owns 126,000 acres west of Kalispell, is not allowing any campfires on its lands, and Stimson Private Timber Company is also not allowing any fires on its lands. F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company is fully open to public use. Green Diamond Resource Company lands in Lincoln, Sanders, and Flathead Counties and SPP Montana timberlands in Lincoln, Sanders, and Flathead Counties will open to public use on Friday, Aug. 27 but will prohibit campfires.

Fire managers remind the public that debris pile burning remains closed until Oct. 1, and to ensure that all campfires are stirred, drowned and completely out before leaving the vicinity.