The Bitterroot National Forest is implementing an “emergency area closure” on the West Fork Ranger District due to expected future fire behavior from the Mustang Fire burning on the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho. The lightning caused fire has grown to more than 196,000 acres, some of which (approx. 3,000 acres) has burned on the Montana side of the divide on the Bitterroot NF.

The area closure includes Trails #650 ,#106 (Divide Trail), and Mine Creek Road #5688. Hughes Creek Road in Montana remains open along with Wood’s Creek Road. Access to Reynolds Lake Trailhead and Upper Blue Joint are also open at this time.

With archery and other hunting seasons beginning this Saturday, September 1st, Forest officials are reminding hunters and Forest visitors that fire season is still underway and Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on smoking and open fires are still in effect.

On the Bitterroot National Forest, campfires are not permitted at dispersed camping sites that do not have a Forest-provided metal fire ring. Smoking is permitted only within an enclosed vehicle, building, or designated recreation site, or while stopped in an area cleared of all burnable vegetation at least three feet in diameter.

The Stage 1 fire restrictions do not apply to stoves using liquid petroleum or LPG fuels or to designated wilderness areas. All hunters are reminded to contact your local Forest Service office for up to date fire and closure information.

Bitterroot National Forest Public Affairs Director Tod McKay