Forest Service and City of Bozeman to Burn Large Debris Piles, Sourdough Drainage – this week
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 29, 2022

Bozeman, MT – November 22, 2022 – The City of Bozeman and Forest Service fire crews are anticipating burning some of the large debris piles in Sourdough Drainage, near the trail this week, November 28, 2022, or as soon as conditions allow.  The Sourdough Trail will be closed shortly for public and firefighter safety while burning efforts are underway.

“I recognize Gallatin Valley recreationists and residents may have concerns resulting from the trail closure and potential smoke impacts,” said Corey Lewellen, Bozeman District Ranger. “We have a strategic plan in place to have the most successful and safe burn operation possible and to minimize impacts to the community.  By burning prior to the beginning of December we will also minimize impacts to the groomed ski trail.  I greatly appreciate the community’s patience during our operations.”

The large piles are a result of fuel reduction efforts in the city’s municipal water supply associated with the Bozeman Municipal Watershed Project.   The BMW project is a joint effort between the City of Bozeman and Custer Gallatin National Forest which aims to reduce forest fuel loads.  The project is an effort to be good stewards of our forests and maintain a high-quality, predictable water supply for Bozeman residents. The project provides more defensible space in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), and just as critical – will increase public and firefighter safety.

Burning will only take place when weather conditions are conducive for safe operations. Fire officials work with the National Weather Service to ensure weather conditions are favorable prior to burning, as well as MT Department of Environmental Quality, to ensure opportunities for smoke dispersal.

It is likely that smoke and potentially flames may be visible during operations. These large piles may actively burn for several days and produce small amounts of smoke for more extended periods.

“We appreciate the public’s understanding as we reach this crucial step in the process,” Brian Heaston, City Engineer, stated. “Please help us out by avoiding this area while work is underway, and be aware that you may see smoke.”

For additional information please visit us online at, on Facebook at Custer Gallatin National Forest or City of Bozeman, or by calling the Bozeman Ranger District office at 406-522-2520.

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