The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation on Aug. 31 issued a ban on all burning and outside smoking in Gallatin and Park counties, including all of Big Sky. Madison County officials have also enacted Stage I fire restrictions.

Stage I fire restrictions allow only campfires and charcoal fires at designated recreation sites or campgrounds in an agency-provided metal fire ring. All other fires, even those within rock fire rings and in wood-burning stoves in canvas wall tents are prohibited. Fires fueled solely by liquid petroleum (LPG) fuels, that can be turned off and on, may be used anywhere on National Forest System lands during Stage I fire restrictions.

Additionally under Stage I restrictions, smoking is allowed only within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable materials.

Fire danger across southwestern Montana is VERY HIGH. Forested lands at all elevations are dry. Fire management officials are hopeful that by initiating Stage 1 fire restrictions, there will be fewer human-caused wildland fires.

For additional information, visit the fire restrictions website at firerestrictions.us.