MTPR

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

This massive Black Hawk chopper is on loan from the Montana National Guard as part of the resource-sharing enabled by a state of fire emergency declared by Governor Steve Bullock last month.
Nicky Ouellet

In the past week alone, firefighters in northwest Montana attacked more than 40 small wildfires, and there’s no end in sight for this summer’s active fire season. But, firefighters are about to get some big help.

"That is the Black Hawk coming in right there," says Wyatt Frampton.

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“This has been a difficult year," Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says. "By some estimates our fire seasons are now about 78 days longer than they were two decades ago.”
Credit Nate Hegyi / YPR

State climatologist Kelsey Jencso says what folks are seeing this summer -- extreme fires, sudden droughts, snowpacks melting quickly -- may be a vision of Montana’s future.

One of the five helicopters DNRC has stationed around the state to fight wildfires.
Corin Cates-Carney

A few miles north of Lincoln, wildfires are burning more than 9,000 acres along steep slopes full of thick brush and snags.

Matt Conklin is a Forest Service incident commander. He says these fires are among the few that escaped initial attacks to put them out.

Malinda Goldhirsch makes the initial attack on a fire near her home that started due to downed powerlines Thursday night.
Libby Goldhirsch

The dry thunderstorm that swept through the Flathead area last night set off dozens of spot fires, left about 5,000 houses without power for hours and previews what’s to come this weekend as a new weather front moves in.

Malinda Goldhirsch lives in Whitefish and got a firsthand taste of the powerful storm while watching TV with her family.

Before Fire Season Finishes, Rehab Begins

Aug 2, 2017

The Lodgepole Complex Fire is nearly 100 percent contained, and now work is shifting to rehabilitate the impacted land.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Mark Bostrum distributes money to impacted wildfire areas as the administrator of conservation and resource development.

Be smart, don't fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire. No amount of video or photos are worth the consequences.
U.S. Forest Service

Aerial firefighting operations on the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake had to be shut down for a few minutes today due to a civilian drone.

This fire season there have already been more than 18 public drone incursions, most of which resulted in the temporary shutdown of aerial firefighting efforts.

July Fire file photo courtesy of InciWeb
InciWeb

Update: 6:30 p.m. 07/10/17

Tribal officials have increased the fire danger to “Extreme” on the west side of the Flathead Indian Reservation and “Very High” on the east side.

Fire managers for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes write in a press release that fine, dead fuels are drying out across the reservation. They add human behavior, such as tossing cigarette butts onto dry grass, leaving campfires unattended, lighting fireworks, burning debris and driving through dry grasses, has caused multiple grass fires across the Northern Rockies over the past week.

A file photo courtesy MT DNRC Fire
Montana DNRC

Lightning on Friday afternoon resulted in several fire starts across Northwest Montana, some of which were not detected until Sunday.

Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports numerous fires scattered throughout the Pleasant Valley/Happy’s Inn/ACM/Fisher River area.

A hand crew assigned to the July Fire near Zortman, MT.
Inciweb

Fire activity is increasing across the state as the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning today for high temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity for a large portion of central and northeastern Montana. The warning is in effect until 9 p.m tonight.

Missoula County’s fire danger bumped up a notch Monday from "moderate" to "high."
U.S. Forest Service

Missoula County’s fire danger bumped up a notch Monday from "moderate" to "high."

A strong high pressure system has parked itself over Montana which will lead to some of the hottest, driest conditions seen so far this year. It’s already really hot and Montana’s forest fuels are getting dry and crunchy.

Glacier National Park entrance sign.
Flickr user photommo (CC-BY-ND)

A company proposing to develop a new campground just outside Glacier National Park’s western entrance is facing opposition from the park, some local residents and agencies.

The company Glacier Park, Inc, plans to build a campground with 25 rental cabins and 102 recreational vehicle spaces near the village of West Glacier. GPI says it will also build a new water and sewer system for the development.

A firefighter on the Bierny Creek Fire near Lakeside, MT.
Patrick Record/Inciweb

Larry Anderson arrived early for a meeting last Friday morning at the Flathead National Forest supervisor’s office in Kalispell. It was unseasonably sunny and warm outside, but he’d spend the next three hours listening to presentations in a conference room because of something that happened last summer.

Last year's Copper King fire burned more than 27,000 acres outside Thompson Falls
Inciweb

Fire season is, for many people, a single season. But a team of resource managers and homeowners in the Flathead Valley is trying to change that.

FireSafe Flathead is a group of firefighters, emergency planners, state and federal resource managers, and homeowner association members who meet monthly to plan a more proactive, community-based response to the threat of wildfire.

Montana Artesian Water Company is seeking permits for a facility that would produce 1.2 billion bottles of water each year.
Nicky Ouellet

Opponents of a proposed water bottling plant outside of Kalispell held a meeting Wednesday night to update local residents on the status of permits relating to the plant.

The Montana Artesian Water Company’s plant would bottle, ship and sell nearly 192 million gallons - about 1.2 billion 12-ounce water bottles - of treated groundwater per year.

People in Swan Lake heard a proposal to transfer management of some National Forest land to the state in a question-and-answer session Dec. 7, 2016, in Swan Lake.
Nicky Ouellet

The public comment period on a proposal to transfer management of National Forest land to local control has been extended. The Swan Forest Initiative would transfer management of 60,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for the next 100 years.

Eric Whitney

On Wednesday night, 75 people crowded into the Swan Lake Club House to hear a first of its kind in Montana proposal that would transfer management of some National Forest land to the state.

Governor Steve Bullock announced today he’s committing $1.5 million of state fire suppression funds for various forest restoration and fuel reduction projects.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

Governor Steve Bullock announced today he’s committing $1.5 million of state fire suppression funds for various forest restoration and fuel reduction projects.

Montana State Forester Bob Harrington says this is a great use of that money:

A Red Flag Fire Weather Warning is posted for Tuesday afternoon for most of northwest and west-central Montana.
National Weather Service Missoula

A Red Flag Fire Weather Warning is posted for Tuesday afternoon for most of northwest and west-central Montana.

Montana's Current Water Supply and Moisture Conditions by County
Montana DNRC

Montana’s fire season has been ‘pretty benign’ so far and it’s not expected to get much worse. That’s how Harold Gemmell characterized it today to the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee.

Gov Bullock and U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie after the Good Neighbor Agreement signing.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock signed an agreement today with the U.S. Forest Service aimed at speeding up the work targeted at reducing fire danger and disease on federal land.

Flathead Area Fire Managers are predicting a "normal" fire season.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

Fire managers in the Flathead Valley are predicting a normal summer in terms of wildland fires. They outlined those predictions at a meeting at the Office of Emergency Services in Kalispell today. "Normal" still means crews from several agencies will probably respond to a few hundred fires in northwest Montana this season.

  

Montana’s gubernatorial candidates took only a short break in their campaigns after the June 7, 2016 primary election.  Two days later they were back in Billings to talk about public lands, access to those lands, and guns.

Governor Steve Bullock rolled out his agenda at Riverfront Park near the banks of the Yellowstone River.

Greenpeace Russia volunteer Sofia Kosacheva (4th from left) and Grigoriy Kuksin, head of Greenpeace Russia’s Fire-Protection (3rd from left) spent part of Monday with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation staff in Missoula.
Edward O'Brien

A delegation of Russian firefighters and conservationists is in Montana getting a western perspective on forestry and fire management. The delegation spent part of Monday with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation staff in Missoula.

A new survey suggests conservation and national parks are as close to a bipartisan issue as you’re ever going to find in Montana.
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

A new survey suggests conservation and national parks are as close to a bipartisan issue as you’re ever going to find in Montana.

"This is a time when things are politically divisive, but what’s really important when it comes to support for national parks and conservation, there's an agreement in the state,  it’s an area of agreement on all sectors of politics."

Mike DeGrosky is Montana's Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief.
John Owens/BLM

Montana may be in for a "typical" fire season, but officials say that’s not the same thing as an "easy" fire season. Montana’s Fire and Aviation chief for the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says most signs point to a “normal” fire season this year.

Live and beetle killed trees in the Helena National Forest.
Steve Jess

State officials say the new kinds of forest management tools the Farm Bill gave them are good for both Montana’s forests and the state’s economy. But some environmentalists say those claims are dubious at best.

Mike DeGrosky is Montana's Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief.
John Owens/BLM

The State of Montana has a new Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief. He was hired last month, and is keeping a close eye on this winter’s weather.

Distribution of Sage Grouse Habitat and sagebrush ecotypes in Montana.
FWP Information Services

State officials are working out the details of the landmark agreement to save the greater sage grouse without having to put the bird on the Endangered Species List.

This September the U.S. Department of Interior announced it wouldn’t put the bird on the list, because individual states had come up with their own plans to protect the bird and its habitat.

Update On The Fire Burning Near Clinton

Sep 28, 2015
Firefighters respond to a wildfire burning in the wildland-urban interface near Clinton, MT in 2015
Dave Dennis

A wildfire burning close to I-90 near Clinton has died down some since yesterday, according to Jordan Koppen, DNRC fire information officer. Koppen says a helicopter dropped water on the fire this morning, and the plan for today is to "put out hotspots and keep an eye on it."

State Forester Bob Harrington says Montana has had 347 wildfires on state land so far this year.  That’s about 30 percent more fires than a typical year, but the total area burned is less than half of the five-year average. 

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