(LEWISTOWN, Mont.) - The long, hot days of summer are drying out the vegetation in north central Montana. The resulting increased fire danger has prompted authorities to begin implementing fire restrictions.
Fergus, Chouteau, Judith Basin, Hill, and Petroleum counties will begin Stage 1 fire restrictions July 14, 2017 starting at 12:01 a.m. These restrictions apply to all state, private, Bureau of Land Management, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed lands within these counties.
Golden Valley County along with the towns of Ryegate and Laviana went in to Stage 1 fire restrictions at 9 a.m., July 11. Phillips County implemented Stage 1 fire restriction 9 a.m., July 11 for all private land within the county. Bureau of Land Management and State lands will go into Stage 1 restriction on July 14, starting at 12:01 a.m. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 6 office has elected to ban all campfires from fishing access sites except for the Bear Paw Lake fishing access site in Hill County.
Stage 1 fire restrictions apply to campfires and smoking. Under Stage 1 restrictions, the following acts are prohibited: building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire except within a developed recreation site, fire ring or improved site; 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.
Exemptions to the above Stage 1 prohibitions include the following: persons with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act; 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 flammable materials within three feet of the device; Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice; any Federal, State, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty; all land within a city boundary is exempted; other exemptions unique to each agency, tribe or jurisdiction.
Fireworks are prohibited on all state and federal lands. Exploding targets available for sale to recreational shooters are considered a pyrotechnic product and are prohibited on federally managed lands year round.
Any individual who causes a wildfire intentionally or through negligence will be held accountable for damage and suppression costs.