Recent hot and dry weather along with afternoon thunderstorms and frequent lightning, prompted fire management officials this week to implement Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. 

The Bitterroot National Forest, along with other land management agencies across the region, is implementing the restrictions effective Thursday, August 7th at 12:01 a.m.

Spokesman Tod McKay outlined the specifics within the Stage One designation.

"Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire," McKay said. "Smoking is also prohibited unless within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in areas cleared of all flammable debris.  Cigarette butts should never be thrown from vehicle windows. Campfires will only be allowed within developed campgrounds or recreation sites which contain a Forest-provided metal or concrete fire ring.  Campfires will not be permitted at sites on the Bitterroot National Forest that do not have a Forest-provided fire ring."

McKay said that abandoned campfires continue to be a major cause of small fires in the Bitterroot National Forest.

“Unfortunately we continue to find abandoned campfires on the forest including this past weekend, and there have been over 60 human-caused fires across the region," he said.  "It’s hotter and drier than you realize and we are asking the public to be extremely careful with any fire."

The Bitterroot National Forest joins Missoula and Ravalli Counties and the City of Missoula in the implementation of Stage One restrictions.