The smoky haze that has been increasing this month contributes to some pretty sunsets, but the dry conditions are contributing to more fire restrictions in Ravalli County and the Bitterroot National Forest. Stage 2 fire restrictions will be in effect as of 12:01 a.m. Friday morning in both the forest and the county. The Ravalli County Commissioners met with fire and emergency officials Wednesday afternoon and passed the resolution, with some exemptions. The main affect for the general public is "No Campfires." Ravalli County and the Bitterroot Forest join other counties in Montana and Idaho that have gone to the strict regulations. The hot, dry conditions have been consistent for weeks and will continue into next week, too.

Besides that, abandoned campfires have been a continuing problem in the Bitterroot Valley. Mark Wilson of the Bitterroot Forest said an unusually large number of neglected campfires have been found by forest personnel in the past two months. Starting Friday, no campfires will be allowed.

Resolution 3765 Restrictions:

  • No fires or campfires.
  • No smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation site or area cleared of all flammable material.
  • No fireworks.
  • No motorized vehicles operating off trails or roads.
  • Hoot Owl Restrictions are enforced between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. During that time, no chainsaw or other powered equipment can be used for firewood gathering, felling, bucking, skidding or road building. No outdoor welding. No explosives. A one-hour patrol in work area is required following any above-mentioned operations during the rest of the day.
  • Not everything is prohibited.
    Resolution 3765 Exemptions:

  • Residential use of outdoor cooking device fueled by liquid fuel with an on-off switch or commercial barbeque that uses briquettes.
  • Operating generators with spark arrestor in an enclosed vehicle or cleared area.
  • Repair, maintenance and construction of public utilities.
  • Activities authorized by written posted notice
  • Land within a city boundary is exempted.
  • Agricultural activity unrelated to forest harvest. (However, No open burning)
  • Residential and commercial lawn care.
  • Construction activities on private land.
  • Exempted activities must have fire extinguishers and fire suppression equipment immediately available. And the exemption does not relieve anyone from liability or responsibility for any fire.