Montana Public Radio

Mike DeGrosky

Montana Drought Monitor Map as of March 23, 2021.
Brad Pugh / CPC/NOAA

Experts on the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee are concerned about moisture levels in the state. They outlined the state's "worrisome" March drought conditions during a status briefing Thursday.

People evacuating from Bridger Canyon, Sept. 5, 2020. The Bridger Foothills Fire threatened homes and forced evacuations near the fire, which started near the 'M trail' just northeast of Bozeman, MT.
inciweb

State fire officials say last weekend’s record-shattering winter storm put a decisive end to Montana’s 2020 wildfire season. It will be remembered for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was the first one to take place during a global pandemic.

Mike DeGrosky describes Montana’s 2020 fire season as an oddball.


Wildland fire managers told Governor Steve Bullock June 16 in a 2020 fire season briefing they’re ready for what could become an above average fire year made even more complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Firefighters loading up onto a helicopter on the Sunrise Fire.
Rand Snyder/Inciweb

Traditional wildland firefighting is defined by women and men working, eating and sleeping shoulder to shoulder for days on end. That close-quarters work could endanger firefighters during the ongoing pandemic.

Edward O’Brien reports on how Montana’s fire managers are preparing for a season that could be like none other in recent memory.

A Heli-Feller, a piece of equipment designed to cut and hold the tops off trees, allows helicopters to assist ground crews clearing the areas around power lines.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

As fire season starts to heat up in Montana, the threat of electrical power lines igniting dry forests is raising concerns. Power lines started the deadliest and most expensive fire in California history last November, the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The threat of vegetation falling on Montana power lines has increased in recent years due to the rising number of beetle-killed trees.

July Max/Min Temps and Precipitation.
Coleen Haskell/Michael Richmond - National Interagency Fire Center

Average fire conditions are expected throughout most of Montana this summer, according to analysis given to Gov. Steve Bullock during his annual pre-fire-season briefing today. However, fire officials warn that climate change is continuing to lengthen fire seasons throughout the West.

Mike DeGrosky is Montana's Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief.
John Owens/BLM

Montana may be in for a "typical" fire season, but officials say that’s not the same thing as an "easy" fire season. Montana’s Fire and Aviation chief for the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says most signs point to a “normal” fire season this year.

Live and beetle killed trees in the Helena National Forest.
Steve Jess

State officials say the new kinds of forest management tools the Farm Bill gave them are good for both Montana’s forests and the state’s economy. But some environmentalists say those claims are dubious at best.

Mike DeGrosky is Montana's Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief.
John Owens/BLM

The State of Montana has a new Fire and Aviation Bureau Chief. He was hired last month, and is keeping a close eye on this winter’s weather.