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Spring burning planned on Bitterroot National Forest

BNF Prescribed Burn
BFN Prescribed Burn
Posted at 11:40 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 12:03:21-04

HAMILTON - Firefighters across the Bitterroot National Forest are preparing for their annual prescribed burning operations to reduce hazardous fuels, restore wildlife habitat, and better protect communities from future wildfires.

Underburning operations could begin as early as Wednesday, March 23 south of Lake Como. Forest officials explain that underburning ignites vegetation under the forest canopy or in open grassy meadows and focuses on the consumption of surface fuels.

BFN Prescribed Burn

“This is the time of year when we have the opportunity to be proactive and meet our forest-wide goals of reducing hazardous fuels in key areas near communities,” said David Tingley, Bitterroot National Forest Fuels Fire Management Officer. “Over the coming weeks, we will be burning on days that maximize safety and minimize smoke impacts to restore healthy forest conditions.”

Spring prescribed fire activities normally take place from March to May and burning is highly weather and fuels dependent. A mosaic pattern of burned and unburned areas will remain after treatments.

Fire managers plan to burn approximately 3,774 acres this spring. Smoke may be visible at times from West Fork Highway, East Fork Road, or US Highway 93.

Treatment areas include:

Darby/Sula Ranger District – 2,292 acres are planned:

  • Waddell Units, south of Lake Como
  • Como/Horse Lick, south of Lost Horse and north of Lake Como
  • Trapper Bunkhouse, SW of Darby between Little Tin Cup & McCoy Creeks 
  • Cameron Blue, along East Fork Road near Guide Creek
  • Teepee Face & Schultz Saddle, east of Sula and north of Springer Memorial
  • Tolan Ecoburn, east of Sula between Reimel and Tolan Creeks

West Fork Ranger District – 815 acres are planned:

  • Lower West Fork Units, south of Trapper Creek and north of Lloyd Creek  
  • School Point Ecoburn Units, west of Boulder Creek and east of Halford Creek

Stevensville Ranger District – 667 acres are planned:

  • Upper Larry Bass Units, within the Bass Creek Recreation Area northwest of Stevensville
  • Three Saddle Units, Sapphire Mountains east of Stevensville  

A news release states that prescribed burning will only take place "if conditions are favorable. Favorable conditions include correct parameters for temperature, wind, fuel moisture, and ventilation for smoke."

For more information about specific burns or to be placed on a pre-burning notification list, please contact your local ranger district. For burn updates, maps, and photos of project areas, visit or the Discover Bitterroot National Forest Facebook page at