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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Briefs: Bitterroot forest fire warning; fishing restrictions; Seeley gravel pit halt

The Bitterroot National Forest raises its fire danger to high
Montana Public Radio | By Victoria Traxler

Bitterroot National Forest raised its fire danger to high this week.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, conditions are drying out quickly as a result of increasing temperatures, gusty winds and low relative humidity. High fire danger indicates a fire may start from most causes, spread rapidly and grow quickly.

Firefighters in the Bitterroot National Forest have extinguished four human-caused fires and seven lightning fires so far this year.

Missoula and Ravalli Counties also raised their fire danger levels to high this week as forecasts call for temperatures to reach the low-100s Saturday and Sunday.

Forest officials ask the public to be extremely careful and to remember to properly maintain and extinguish campfires.

More information on the latest fire restrictions can be found at

Officials restrict afternoon fishing on three rivers in SW Montana
Montana Public Radio | By John Hooks

High water temperatures and lowering flows have prompted Montana wildlife officials to restrict afternoon fishing on three rivers in southwest Montana.

The entire Jefferson River and sections of the Beaverhead and Bitterroot rivers are now closed to anglers from 2 p.m. to midnight. Fishing closures like this are put in place when water temperatures exceed limits for three consecutive days. Temperature limits are established in drought management plans and differ for each river.

The restrictions will remain in effect until lifted by Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Residents secure a temporary halt on an open pit gravel mine near Seeley Lake
Montana Public Radio | By Hailey Smalley

Residents near Seeley Lake secured a temporary halt on a nearby open pit gravel mine after arguing that the state failed to perform an adequate environmental assessment.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for the 21-acre site and conducted an environmental assessment in April. The mine’s location would allow it to provide asphalt for ongoing construction along Highway 83.

The Seeley Lake nonprofit Protect the Clearwater filed suit to block the project. On Monday, Montana Fourth District Court Judge John Larson issued a temporary restraining order, while the case moves forward, writing that immediate and irreparable harm could result from continued operations.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday in Missoula

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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