GALLATIN MEDIA CENTER
BOZEMAN – Due to historically dry fuel levels, ongoing drought conditions and a lack of firefighting resources regionally, the Gallatin County Commission has signed an emergency ordinance banning burning and other activities that increase the risk of wildfire in Gallatin County. The ordinance went into effect immediately and will remain in effect for 90 days until the commission rescinds it.
“Since our firefighters are out there doing their best to protect our communities and homes, and putting their lives at risk, the rest of us can do our part to prevent starting any new fires,” said Commissioner Zach Brown. “We’re on track for really rough conditions and relief is not exactly in sight.”
The following acts are prohibited in Gallatin County, excluding only those lands under the jurisdiction of federal, state or municipal agencies:
- Recreational fires, excluding petroleum-fueled devices that can be turned immediately on and off with no element that continues to burn
- Use of any firework, explosive or incendiary device
- Smoking outside an enclosed vehicle or building, unless the smoking occurs in an area at least three feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable material
- Operating motorized vehicles off a road or trail, except for an agricultural or utility activity (e.g. maintaining livestock, maintaining water facilities, or utility maintenance work)
- Although not prohibited by this ordinance, people are also recommended to refrain from shooting firearms outside of developed shooting ranges clear of natural vegetation.
These restrictions are for Gallatin County; please check with your city or town for local restrictions. And note that additional restrictions are going into effect on the Custer Gallatin National Forest this week, most notably that there will be no campfires allowed whatsoever, even in designated sites.
Gallatin County Commissioners took a number of factors into account when enacting this burn ban.
The Energy Release Component values for Gallatin County indicate that vegetation in the area is at historically dry levels and vulnerable to rapid fire growth. These values for Gallatin County have exceeded the historical maximums and are projected to continue exceeding the maximums until fall.
Montana’s firefighting resources are stretched thin due to numerous wildfires burning across the region, impacting the ability to respond to a large wildfire if one were to start in our area.
And ongoing high heat, high winds, low humidity and high fire danger are predicted to continue in the short and long term.
“No one wants a fire in our community and now is the time for people think about what they are doing and help keep our area fire free,” said Patrick Lonergan, Gallatin County Chief of Emergency Management and Fire.
Lonergan notes that activities being banned have all started large fires in our area in recent years.
“Fires often start from routine activities that the person never thought twice about. This is a summer to think twice about what you are doing and avoid activities that could result in a fire,” he said.
Sheriff Dan Springer said he supports the commission’s decision to enact the burn ban and urges citizens and visitors to be responsible.
“All public safety resources across the state are spread thin due to multiple fires and multiple evacuations,” Springer said. “With the public’s cooperation, we know we can limit the likelihood of having significant fires in our community.”