Prescribed fire in Ninemile
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: May 15, 2018

The Ninemile Ranger District, as part of their seasonal prescribed burning to reduce fuels, promote vegetation regeneration, and enhance the habitats for multiple species, may conduct burning over the next several days if weather, fuel conditions, and air quality allow for safe and effective ignition and burning. The prescribed burns that may occur are associated with the Petty Creek Big Game Ecosystem Maintenance Burning Project.


The units proposed for burning are located in the Printers and Spring Creek Drainages of Petty Creek, which is approximately 15 miles west of Missoula. A combination of hand and aerial ignition may occur on approximately 450 acres.  The units will be implemented through collaborative efforts with the Ninemile Ranger District, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program, and the Mule Deer Foundation.  The burns are located south of Interstate 90 and may be visible to residents of Petty Creek, Frenchtown, Missoula, and travelers along the I-90 corridor.


Objectives of the prescribed burns are to:

•           Re-introduce low intensity surface fire to benefit ponderosa pine forest restoration.

•           Enhance yearlong habitat for populations of elk, bighorn sheep, white-tail deer, and mule deer on public lands.

•           Enhance the habitat for populations of wild turkey and upland game birds on public lands.

•           Reduce forest fuels near private property and top-kill shrubs, grasses, and forbs to optimize forage for wildlife.

•           Promote the vigor of ponderosa pine, rejuvenate forest floor vegetation, and restore the composition and structure of plant communities.


All burning will be weather and fuel condition dependent.  For public safety, recreationists are asked to be aware of prescribed fire crews and vehicles in these areas.  Prescribed fire road signs will be posted along the Petty Creek Road where burning is taking place. The prescribed burns will be ignited only if operational safety, fuel moistures, weather conditions and air quality parameters are met.


If members of the public have any questions or if you would like to be placed on a day-of-burning notification list, they may contact the Ninemile Ranger District at 626-5201.