With our region of northeast Montana suffering from emergency drought and the constant threat of wildfires, hunters and other recreationists taking to the field must be aware of local fire restrictions and take precautions. Some Block Management Areas (BMAs) in Region 6 are currently closed or have rule changes (see list below), and all counties in Region 6 (as of Mon., Aug. 28) are in Stage 1 fire restrictions or in a burn ban.
Montana archery antelope hunters are already hunting with their 900 hunting licenses. Montana’s upland game bird season (and mourning doves) open this Friday, Sept. 1, while the archery-only hunting season for deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, black bear, wolf and mountain lion begins Sept. 2.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks urges hunters to check in with the regional FWP offices or online about potential closures before making final plans.
Hunters and other recreationists should:
Drive only on established roads.
Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
Never park over dry grass and other vegetation.
Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—shovel, axe, and, a cell phone for emergency calls.
Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
Build campfires only in established metal fire rings, if allowed (note restrictions).
Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
Check on any fire restrictions in place.
When it comes to site-specific fire restrictions, FWP follows the lead of the county where the site is located. Currently most counties in Montana are under either Stage 1 or Stage 2 fire restrictions.
As of Mon., Aug. 28, all counties in Region 6 (Choteau, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Valley, McCone, Roosevelt, Sheridan, and Richland) are in Stage 1 restrictions, except for Daniels Co. which is in a burn ban. In addition, the BLM-managed lands within the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument are in Stage 2 restrictions.
Stage 1 restrictions ban campfires except where specifically exempted, allow cooking fires on propane devices that can be shut off and smoking only in vehicles and areas three feet in diameter that are cleared of flammable materials.
Stage 2 restrictions start with regulations delineated by Stage 1 restrictions. In addition, Stage 2 restrictions ban welding, explosives, driving off established roads and use of internal-combustion engines, except for vehicles on established roads, between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. each day. Generators used in enclosed buildings or in an area cleared of vegetation specifically are exempted from Stage 2 restrictions.
FWP sites that could be impacted fire restrictions include fishing access sites, wildlife management areas and state parks.
Private landowners along with land enrolled in Block Management or other private land access programs may also have restrictions or closures. Be sure to ask when securing permission. Currently in Region 6, we have several BMAs that have closures or restrictions:
BMA # BMA Name County Date Closed Date Open
193 Larry Christianson McCone 8-15-17 10-1-17
181 Biebinger Ranch Blaine 8-15-17 ?
10 Williamson Ranch Blaine 8-15-17 ?
183 BKB Ranch Blaine 8-15-17 ?
187 Wine Cup Blaine 8-15-17 ?
6 Mack Ranch Choteau 8-15-17 ?
3 Phalen Ranch Hill 8-15-17 ?
29 North Phillips Phillips Open: Walk in Only
BMAs fire restrictions and closures will be updated as changes occur at fwp.mt.gov/export/sites/FwpPublic/hunting/hunterAccess/blockman/region6/.
For up-to-date details on state-wide FWP property fire and drought-related restrictions and closures, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click Restrictions & Closures under the “News” tab. In addition, you can go to https://firerestrictions.us/mt/ to see restrictions statewide.
Always be prepared to prevent or extinguish fire starts. Your assistance during this time will be appreciated.