Smoke from open burning can get trapped in Montana’s mountain valleys during wintertime inversions causing poor air quality. For this reason, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reviews atmospheric conditions daily during the winter months to determine when and where it’s safe to burn.
Open burning is defined as outdoor burning of materials such as slash piles, yard or field waste. It does not include small recreational fires, flares or construction site heaters.
Between Dec. 1 and the last day of February, burning is permissible in the western burn zone by permit only. Montana’s western burn zone includes the following counties: Lincoln, Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Powell, Lewis & Clark, Ravalli, Granite, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Jefferson, Broadwater, Beaverhead, Madison, Gallatin, and Park (south of I-90 only).
To burn in the western burn zone during the winter season, start by submitting a Wintertime Open Burning Request form. You will be notified of your application status via email and assigned a Burner Identification Number (Burner ID) once it is approved. This process may take several days and should be completed well-ahead of your desired burn date. Follow instructions provided in your confirmation email for contacting DEQ before your planned burn date to obtain final consent for the burn based on meteorological forecasts and conditions.
Additional regulations may apply to burning in Lewis and Clark, Yellowstone, Flathead, Missoula, Lincoln and Cascade counties and all tribal lands. Please contact your local air quality agency before submitting a Burn Request Form to understand any local air quality related open burning rules or restrictions.
To conduct open burning in the eastern burn zone during the winter months, please notify DEQ by telephone prior to ignition at 406-444-3490. No permit is required.
Only clean, untreated wood and plant material may be burned. Do not burn: food wastes, plastics, wood that has been coated, painted, stained, or treated, dead animals or animal droppings, rubber materials, chemicals, asphalt shingles, tar paper, hazardous wastes or structures containing these materials. The DEQ website has information about what materials can and cannot be burned, frequently asked questions about open burning, state-issued major open burning permits, and local contact information. For more information, visit: burnclosures.mt.gov
Before starting fires any time of year, please remember to contact your local authorities to provide notification of the burn, check for fire safety concerns and obtain necessary local open burning permits.