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Wildfires

Prescribed Burns Planned For Eastern Montana

Porcupine prescribed burn Custer Gallatin National Forest 2018.
Courtesy of Custer Gallatin National Forest
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Porcupine prescribed burn Custer Gallatin National Forest 2018.

The Bureau of Land Management has planned several prescribed burns around Montana this spring as part of its efforts to protect natural resources and communities in the event of a wildfire.

A large section of federal, state and private land in the upper Missouri River Breaks north of the Missouri River will be the focus of a planned, controlled burn so large that helicopters will be used for aerial ignition.

“Because of that large size of that prescribed fire, it is a lot more efficient and safer to utilize aerial ignition,” says Mike Solheim, fuels program manager for BLM’s North Central District

Before using the helicopters the fire managers will send crews out to create a black line around the region to be burned to keep the burn contained.

At nearly 8600 acres, the Antelope Creek burn will be the largest of the five BLM’s north central district has planned to help preserve Montana’s landscape.

“Reduce conifer encroachment and reduce the hazardous fuels, rebuild a resilient landscape in the event of wildfire. It will also allow the forest to recover a lot more quickly and save that cherished landscape,” Solheim says.

The other burns are two just over 600 acres near Malta and Glasgow and two under 100 acres near Lewistown and White Sulphur Springs.

Solheim says drought conditions are expected to impact the burn plans, potentially delaying or cancelling prescribed burns, and can be a harbinger of the upcoming fire season.

“Last year was pretty busy so hopefully we get enough rain. I know our snowpack up in the higher elevations in a lot of areas is above average so hopefully we have a nice calms and cool fire season,” Solheim says.

The Dillon and Missoula districts are also planning prescribed burns in Madison County and the Blackfoot River Corridor this spring.