July 17, 2021: Western Montana Wildland Fire and Smoke Update

Much of the eight-county region of Glacier Country, which includes Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties, has implemented fire restrictions in response to the hot and dry weather conditions which are forecasted to continue.

Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties announced Stage II restrictions go into effect July 17 until further notice. Flathead and Glacier counties currently have Stage I restrictions in place. 

Under Stage II restrictions, the following acts are prohibited:

  • Building maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.
  • 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.
  • Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.
  • The following acts are prohibited from 1:00 pm to 1:00 am:
    • Operating any internal combustion engine.
    • Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with an open flame.
    • Using an explosive.

All Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks campsites, parks and fishing access sites also follow the Stage II restrictions except at Wayfarers State Park, West Shore State Park and Whitefish Lake State Park, where Stage I restrictions are enforced.

Stage I restrictions also take effect July 17 for the Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, state public lands and open spaces in Flathead County.

Under Stage I restrictions, campfires are only permitted in developed recreation areas within concrete or metal fire rings (rock rings are not allowed). Smoking is only allowed in an enclosed vehicle, building or developed recreation site.

For more information on fire restrictions in the state of Montana, please refer to mtfireinfo.org.

July 13, 2021: Western Montana Wildland Fire and Smoke Update

An update from last week.

There are a number of active fires in Western Montana, across Montana and in surrounding states, which means the air quality is not great in some areas. But luckily you typically don’t have to travel far to find fresher air and this website can keep you apprised. These webcams also provide a real-time view. 

Recreate Responsibly

We all need to remember to recreate responsibly, more so than ever when the potential of fire is high. That means:

  • Stay on designated roads and avoid parking on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildland fire.
  • Campers should never leave a campfire unattended, and always make sure fires are completely extinguished before leaving the site.
  • Extinguish and properly dispose of cigarette butts. And never, ever throw them out the window!
  • Follow Montana State Fire Restrictions. We love camping as much as the next guy, but smores over a campfire are not always in the cards as certain areas may be restricted.
  • Learn more about how you can prevent wildland fires from Recreate Responsibly in Western Montana.

When there are wildfires, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You’re safe. Most wildland fires, when they happen, are in the back country, miles from civilization and any structures. Montana is home to 3,443,038 acres of wilderness, and most fires happen there. If, by chance, a wildland fire gets close to a community, our firefighting experts communicate, evacuate and communicate some more. You will not find yourself unwittingly in the midst of a wildfire while driving down the highway. Ever. Public safety is always the first concern. If an area is open, it is safe.
  2. Montana is huge. Vast, in fact. Over 145,556 square miles or 94,109,440 acres, to be precise. If you read that a fire is 6,400 acres, keep it in perspective, as that’s only a tiny, tiny fraction of Montana’s total acreage. Sometimes newspaper headlines and social media posts can be unnecessarily dramatic and imply that Montana as a whole is “on fire.” It sounds better than to say .000068 of Montana is on fire, which is actually more accurate.
  3. Fire is a natural part of our region’s ecology. Most fires are started by lightning, and are responsible for maintaining the health and perpetuity of certain fire-dependent ecosystems. We don’t pretend to be scientists, but we do have a lot of scientists in our area and resources in our partners at the state and federal levels, and we’ve attached a link to fire ecology below.
  4. And, because we always think the glass is at least half full here in Glacier Country, when the sky is a bit smoky, the sunsets are phenomenal.

Resources

Here are some links that will help you stay informed in case there are wildland fires in Western Montana. Check back often, as these sites are updated daily.

Glacier National Park – @GlacierNPS and facebook.com/GlacierNPS.

Glacier National Park Dashboard – nps.gov/applications/glac/dashboard


July 1, 2021: Western Montana Wildland Fire and Smoke Update

It’s summertime in Western Montana, and with that comes outdoor fun, sunshine, camping, and…responsibility. Although it’s beautiful and green in Glacier Country right now, our friends and partners at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation tell us they’re bracing for a lot of fire activity this year. So in anticipation of the high possibility that we do indeed have wildland fires or smoke to contend with this year, we’re being proactive with our communication and sharing resources. And, we’d like to share some tips on how to recreate responsibly.

  • Stay on designated roads and avoid parking on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildland fire.
  • Campers should never leave a campfire unattended, and always make sure fires are completely extinguished before leaving the site.
  • Extinguish and properly dispose of cigarette butts. And never, ever throw them out the window!
  • Follow Montana State Fire Restrictions. We love camping as much as the next guy, but smores over a campfire are not always in the cards as certain areas may be restricted. 
You’ll find blue skies throughout most of Western Montana.

In the event we do have a wildland fire, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You’re safe. Most wildland fires, when they happen, are in the back country, miles from civilization and any structures. Montana is home to 3,443,038 acres of wilderness, and most fires happen there. If, by chance, a wildland fire gets close to a community, our firefighting experts communicate, evacuate and communicate some more. You will not find yourself unwittingly in the midst of a wildfire while driving down the highway. Ever. Public safety is always the first concern. If an area is open, it is safe.
  • Montana is huge. Vast, in fact. Over 145,556 square miles or 94,109,440 acres, to be precise. If you read that a fire is 6,400 acres, keep it in perspective, as that’s only a tiny, tiny fraction of Montana’s total acreage. Sometimes newspaper headlines and social media posts can be unnecessarily dramatic and imply that Montana as a whole is “on fire.” It sounds better than to say .000068 of Montana is on fire, which is actually more accurate.
  • Fire is a natural part of our region’s ecology. Most fires are started by lightning, and are responsible for maintaining the health and perpetuity of certain fire-dependent ecosystems. We don’t pretend to be scientists, but we do have a lot of scientists in our area and resources in our partners at the state and federal levels, and we’ve attached a link to fire ecology below.
  • And, because we always think the glass is at least half full here in Glacier Country, when the sky is a bit smoky, the sunsets are phenomenal.
Morel mushrooms—the caviar of the mushroom family—like to grow in post-fire areas.

Here are some links that will help you stay informed in case there are wildland fires in Western Montana. Check back often, as these sites are updated daily.

Glacier National Park – @GlacierNPS and facebook.com/GlacierNPS.

Glacier National Park Dashboard – nps.gov/applications/glac/dashboard

We also have many webcams set up across Western Montana so we can see the beauty of Glacier Country at any time. You can also see if there’s smoke in the area.

Here are a few so you can see what is happening right now in our area:

And, although I think we’d all agree we’d rather not have to deal with smoke, it’s not calamitous, and if one area is smoky, there are always many, many places in Western Montana, and the state in general, that aren’t.

If you ever have to revise your travel plans in Western Montana because of wildland fires or smoke, Glacier Country Tourism’s call center can help you. Chat online here or call 800.338.5072.

July 20, 2021

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Comments

Ali
Wow! This is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing all of this wildfire information for awareness and planning purposes! 80% of wildfires are started by people each year so WE all have a role in how this fire season will play out. Thank you! -Ali

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