Forest Plans Spring Prescribed Burning

Release Date: Apr 16, 2012  

Contact(s): Tod McKay 406-363-7122

Hamilton, MT, – Warmer spring temperatures with no precipitation will allow Bitterroot National Forest fire managers to begin their 2012 prescribed fire program.  Over the next several weeks, fire crews will be conducting prescribed burns, weather permitting, to reduce fuels and meet resource objectives.  There are 11 prescribed fire projects planned this spring on the Forest totaling approximately 1,400 acres.  A map of the burn areas, closure information and fire photos can be found at

Smoke from several of the fires may be visible in the valley.  The first burn of the season could take place later today on the Stevensville Ranger District.  A test fire will be conducted first to see if burning conditions meet objectives.  Smoke may be visible west of Stevensville this afternoon from Highway 93 towards the St. Mary’s Peak Trailhead.        

Before a decision is made to ignite a prescribed fire, managers must confirm that weather and burning conditions meet specified criteria.  Just as private landowners need to check with authorities prior to burning, so must the Forest Service.  We submit burn requests by noon the day before wanting to burn to the MT/ID Smoke Management Unit in Missoula.  Airshed Coordinators review all requests and look at weather forecasts and dispersion (wind) forecasts to make their decision on which burns get approved and which don’t.  Residents can view information about forecasts for burning at   

Prescribed burns on the Forest have several objectives including:

  • Maintain forest health and ecosystem restoration
  • Improve wildlife habitat – many plants respond favorably to fire providing new food sprouts for wildlife. 
  • Reduce the potential of large, high intensity wildfires by reducing the amount of downed fuel to burn.
  • Post harvest slash treatment – reduce residual slash created by personal use firewood cutting and prepare sites for new tree regeneration.
  • Promote favorable conditions and habitat for deer and elk forage.

If you have questions about the prescribed fire program, please contact your local ranger station for more specific information or to be included on their notification lists.