Even with the bitter cold this week, the annual Open Burning Season that heralds spring in Ravalli County starts next week. The open burning season is from March 1 to November 30, but is often cut short by forest fire season. So, early spring is the time that landowners start burning ditchbanks or fields to prepare for the summer growing season. But you need a permit.

Where to Find Burn Permit Information

The permit system records when those smoky situations will happen, so the 9-1-1 dispatchers don't send fire departments out to a controlled burn. The official Ravalli County webpage has a "Burn Permit" page that provides the instructions on how to get a permit from the statewide permit system. However, the rules haven't changed from year to year.

Renewals and Lost Permits

In fact, if you have a permit from last year, it can be renewed for use this year. The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office is handling the permit renewals. If you lost your Burn Permit number, contact the sheriff's office during normal business hours Monday through Friday at 406 375-4060 or the "non-emergency" number at 406 363-3033 after hours or on weekends. They can research your Burn Permit number to be used again.

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How to Use a Burn Permit

The process is simple. You obtain the permit and on the day you plan to use it, call and activate it. Make sure you have water, hand tools and equipment. It's essential to have enough people to keep the fire under control. Some neighborhoods get together and help each other in a coordinated team effort.

Pay attention to the weather conditions. Afternoons are always breezy and the earlier in the day you burn is often the better option. You can only burn natural materials and vegetation and you are responsible if the fire gets away and damages someone else's property. So be careful.

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