by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder
March 5, 1998
Burning season started March 1st, and the permit system for the Seeley Swan residents has changed. There will no longer be an open-burning blanket permit which allowed the residents to burn without individual permits from March 1 through April 30.
This year the residents in the Seeley Swan valley, which includes the Clearwater River and Swan River drainages, will need to get a permit at one of the following offices: Residents south of the Summit on Highway 83 can obtain a permit at the Seeley Lake Rural Fire District, Clearwater Unit of the DNRC, or the Seeley Lake Ranger District; Residents north of the Summit can obtain their permits from the Swan Unit of the DNRC.
You will need the following information to receive a permit: 1. Location of the burn (street and legal description); 2. Section township and range of the property (If you do not have this information on your Missoula County tax bill, you can get the necessary information off the closest power pole. It will read "MEC" followed by 2-two digit numbers and underneath those, there will be six more numbers); and 3. Name, mailing address and phone number.
There are permit conditions, which if not followed could lead to possible fines and imprisonment for violating the Missoula Air Pollution Control regulations. One of the conditions is that before a burn is started, you must call the local Burn Hot-Line, 677-2899. You will reach a recording that will either give you the go-ahead to burn that day or it will inform you of any restrictions and/or further instructions. This recording will be updated each time there is a change.
For example, during fire season, May 1 through September 30, the hot-line will inform you that you will need to get approval prior to each burn from the agency in which the property of the burn is situated (Agencies: State-Clearwater DNRC, (406) 244-5857 and Swan DNRC, 754-2301 or Federal-USFS, Seeley Lake Ranger Station 677-2233.
The burning season is basically from March 1 through September 30, but restrictions may, and often do increase depending on fire danger from May 1 through September 30. All burning can be prohibited at any time depending on both fire danger and/or air conditions. Any burning between November 1 and November 30 falls under special rules and regulations. You may contact any of the local agencies for more information about that time period. From December 1 through February 28 most burning is prohibited, and only the Missoula County Health Department can issue a burning permit during that period.
Please inform your neighbors prior to starting your burn. Agencies that respond to fires receive numerous false-alarm calls each year because a neighbor sees the smoke. This results in an unnecessary scare as well as costing the agencies time and money.