Outdoor Burning in Missoula County

Essential Agriculture and Prescribed Wildland Burning is OPEN in Missoula County.  The General Burning season is closed until March 1, 2020.

 

Area

Today's

 Restrictions 

 Impact Zone M

Open

 Impact Zone SL

Open

 Potomac Valley

Open

 Airshed 2

Open

 Airshed 3A (Outside of Impact Zone M and the Potomac Valley)

Open

 Airshed 3B (Outside of Impact Zone SL)

Open

 

Discussion

A high pressure ridge is setting up over the area Thursday and will remain overhead for several days.  This will create stable conditions with few breezes, thereby limiting smoke dispersion.  Conditions should improve as we head into the weekend.

Outdoor Burning Permits


All burns require a permit, which you may obtain online at the County Burn Permit System website or at your local fire protection agency (check here to see if your local agency will be issuing permits). All permits cost $7. You can pay online with a credit card or electronic check. If you prefer to purchase your permit in person, you may do so at the locations listed here.

Also, don't forget that you can RENEW your permit! All of your information from last year is saved and ready to go. Check your mail each spring for a postcard with your permit number, or call the Missoula City-County Health Department (258-4755) or your local fire protection agency, and we can help you renew your permit!

Before lighting your fire you must activate your permit either online (Burnpermit.mt.gov) or by calling the automated activation phone line at 1-888-583-6497 after 9:00 a.m. on the day you wish to burn. If burning is restricted you will not be able to activate your permit. When dispersion is poor, burn restrictions are required to protect public health.

For more information about the online outdoor burn permit system and burning in Missoula County, you can visit the Missoula Fire Protection Association webpage here or try the demo version for yourself!

Have questions? This FAQ list may have your answers!

Airsheds and Impact Zones


To protect public health and ensure good air quality, outdoor burning may be restricted based on your burn's elevation or location.  There are three airsheds in Missoula County (2, 3A and 3B) and twAirshedso Impact Zones (M and SL).  The Potomac Valley is another area of concern based on population and woodsmoke density and the frequent stagnant air.  Despite being in the same airshed, the air moves very differently in the Ninemile vs. the Potomac Valley!

This map illustrates the boundaries of the airsheds and Impact Zones in Missoula County.  If you aren't sure which zone or airshed applies to your burn location, check your permit!  The Burn Locations box on your permit lists the zones and elevation for each burn location. 

 

Outdoor Burning Seasons


General: March 1 - August 31.

General burning is the cleanup and burning of untreated vegetative waste that does not include trade waste. All materials must be generated onsite. Most outdoor burning in Missoula County is conducted during the general burn season. NOTE: In the Air Stagnation Zone, piles of grass or deciduous leaves may not be disposed of through outdoor burning.

Essential Agriculture: March 1st - October 31st.

Essential agriculture burning is conducted on a farm or ranch to eliminate excess vegetative matter from an irrigation ditch or cultivated fields, or to improve range conditions or wildlife habitat. Agricultural burning should only be conducted when no reasonable alternative methods of disposal are available.

Prescribed Wildland: March 1st - November 30th

Prescribed wildland burning is planned and conducted on forested land or relatively undeveloped range land to improve wildlife habitat or range conditions, promote forest regeneration, reduce fire hazards resulting from forestry practices, control forests pests and diseases, and/or promote any other accepted silvicultural practices.

 

Recreational Fires

Inside Missoula City limits: Prohibited

Per the Missoula Municipal Code (Chapter 8) recreational fires are prohibited inside Missoula City limits.

Outside Missoula City limits: Allowed, No Permit Required

Recreational fires are allowed outside Missoula City limits year-round except when prohibited due to fire danger.  Recreational fires may be no more than 2 feet in diameter and can only be used to burn untreated wood and vegetation.  Note that if the purpose of the fire is to dispose of the material being burned, it is considered an outdoor burn and is subject to outdoor burning permitting requirements and restrictions.

 

Bonfires - Permits Required

Inside Missoula City limits:

Bonfire permits may only be issued for ceremonial fires conducted by a state-accredited school, a nonprofit organization, a government entity or a religious organization.  The permit may be voided when air quality or fire hazard restrictions are in effect. Permits are available at the Missoula City-County Health Department and must be signed by representatives of law enforcement, fire protection and the health department.

Outside Missoula City limits:

Bonfire permits may only be issued for fires conducted for a festival or by a school, a non-profit organization, a government entity, an association or religious organization for the purpose of celebrating a particular organization-related event. The permit may be voided when air quality or fire hazard restrictions are in effect. Permits are available at the Missoula City-County Health Department and must be signed by representatives of law enforcement, fire protection and the health department.

 

Barbecues

Barbecues for the purpose of cooking food are not considered outdoor burning in Missoula County.  Note that the use of certain types of barbecues may be curtailed due to fire danger, and within Missoula City limits, a barbecue may not cause a nuisance at any time.