Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 21, 2015

Aug 21, 2015
Firefighter planning meeting on the Scotchman's Gulch Fire.
Inciweb

It was another active fire week in western Montana. Fires forced evacuations in Sanders County, closed part of Highway 2, and put the town of Essex on alert. Nowhere in western Montana escaped the choking smoke produced by dozens of fires burning in the state and in neighboring Idaho and Washington.

A helicopter on initial attack on the Burke Gulch fire this week, one of 40 lightning-caused wildfires crews have contained since Aug. 10.
Courtesy Cory Rennaker Bitterroot Helitack

Governor Steve Bullock sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service today saying he’s frustrated that Montana’s fleet of firefighting helicopters often can’t be used to attack fires on federal land.

Governor Declares Fire Emergency In Montana

Aug 16, 2015
MT DNRC

Citing active wildfires and extreme fire danger across the state, Governor Steve Bullock has issued an executive order declaring a fire emergency in Montana. “Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. This declaration will provide additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires,” Bullock said of the declaration. 

A lot of people know about the Berkeley Pit in Butte, but not many know about another significant pollution challenge in the Mining City. It’s called the Parrot Plume, and there’s controversy over whether it needs to be cleaned up, and if so, who would pay for it.

Without water, we perish. For 30 years, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes and the state of Montana have disagreed about tribal water right claims. But this year the legislature approved a comprehensive water rights agreement. Melissa Hornbein was one of the lead attorneys in the negotiations, working for Montana DNRC and the Montana Reserved Water Rights Commission. Hornbein talks with Brian Kahn about the legal and emotional challenges of negotiating the Flathead water compact.

BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana fire officials are urging people to be extra careful with fire this weekend and over Fourth of July.

Negotiating teams for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana, and the United States have completed a revised draft of a proposed water right compact.

However, a copy of the draft is not yet publicly available.

A Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation press release says: "For copies of the public review draft of the Revised Compact and associated documents please check the RWRCC website during the week of January 5, 2015"

Danny Dauterive

A large fire that ignited yesterday in Missoula's Miller Creek drainage no longer presents a threat to Northwestern Energy high voltage power lines, communication towers on Dean Stone Mountain or local homes.

An overheated chainsaw muffler sparked the Lost Mine Loop fire. Miller Creek Road remains closed to all but fire crews and local traffic.The fire is now estimated to encompass 153 acres and is 75 percent contained.

Montana DNRC

Investigators say an overheated chainsaw side muffler ignited a wildfire that started yesterday afternoon in Missoula's Miller Creek drainage.

That fire now has a name - The Lost Mine Loop fire. It started Sunday afternoon around 2:00.  A flight survey will arrive today to determine the size of the fire, which is estimated to be greater than 60 acres.

In this evening's feature interview with Edward O'Brien, Michael Downey with Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation explains why it's taken over 20 years to update Montana's water plan:

The existing Montana State Water Plan is long overdue for an update.

The existing plan guides the conservation and management of Montana's water resources.

It is currently over 20 years old and fails to address contemporary issues and challenges faced by water users today.

Josh Burnham (CC-BY)

The soaking rain that fell in parts of Western Montana dramatically cooled temperatures yesterday and came as welcome respite from the very hot and dry conditions of the past few weeks.

Fire officials, however, caution the rain by no means qualifies as a "season-ending" event.
       Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation's Jordan Koppen says the rain storm that parked over the Missoula valley yesterday was great to see:
      

Dan Boyce

A Democratic state representative believes a new water plan being developed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) may provide a vehicle for inserting more climate science into state policy.

On Tuesday, members of the legislature’s Water Policy Interim Committee heard presentations from several prominent state climate scientists on the future of agricultural water use. These addressed the changing of Montana’s mountain snowpack, key stresses on the state’s water sources, and projections of future water supply.

Montana DNRC

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has launched an initiative to update the state's water plan.

Sally Mauk

Western Montana's fire danger is back to a "low" rating, there's been plenty of rain recently - even some high-elevation snow in western Montana. The 2013 fire season is essentially behind us.

C. G. P. Grey/Flickr

State wildfire experts are saying heavy spring rain in Eastern Montana is lowering the risk for an extreme fire season across much of the state.

Leaders of state and federal agencies dealing with wildfire suppression briefed Governor Steve Bullock this week.

But Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce tells us those officials are still expecting much more severe conditions in Southwest Montana