HELENA, MONT., August 27, 2012—Before venturing into the Helena National Forest and Wildreness areas for a memorable hunting experience, forest officials would like to remind hunters of some regulations, fire restrictions and safety tips while exploring their public lands.
The Helena and Townsend Ranger Districts remain in Stage 1 fire restrictions and fire season is underway in our area. Under Stage 1 fire restrictions, 1) campfires may be built only in metal fire rings in designated sites. Campfires in rock rings and the use of wood stoves in canvas tents outside of campgrounds and other developed sites are prohibited; and 2) smoking is permitted only inside vehicles or buildings, within an area three feet in diameter that is cleared of burnable vegetation, or inside developed recreation sites. Stage 1 restrictions do not apply to stoves using liquid petroleum or LPG fuels. Additional fire restrictions information is online at http://firerestrictions.us.
Hunters and all off-highway vehicle users need to comply with designated travel routes in the Elkhorns, Big Belts and other areas of the Helena National Forest. Motorized use is only allowed on designated routes. If the route is not shown as a designated route on the travel map, it is closed to wheeled motorized vehicles.
In the Wilderness areas, no motorized vehicles or equipment, and no mechanized wheeled vehicles or equipment (including wagons, carts and/or bicycles) are allowed to be utlized within the Wilderness boundary. As a reminder, there are several wildland fires currently burning within the Scapegoat Wilderness and associated closures in and around those areas. Due to the activity from the East Fork Fire on the Helena National Forest, the following trails are closed to the public:
- The entire Arrastra/Porcupine Basin Trail #482;
- Dry Creek Trail #483, beginning in T15N R10W Section 17 to Southern Shore of Meadow Lake in T16N, R9W, Section 18; and
- the entire Trail #488.
Campsites on the Helena National Forest and in the Wilderness areas are available on a first-come, first-serve basis with a 14 cumulative-day stay limit. Hunters can relocate their campsites after that 14-day stay limit, as long as the new site is at least five air miles from the previous site. Regardless of the purpose or duration, nobody can “cache”—or otherwise store—their equipment, personal items, pet or livestock food or other supplies in the Wilderness area boundaries.
While camping in grizzly bear habitat, specifically on the Lincoln Ranger District, visitors need to follow all food storage order requirements. Below are food storage order details:
- Human, pet and livestock food, and garbage, must be stored in a bear-resistant manner; and
- wildlife carcasses that are within a ½-mile of any camp or sleeping area must be stored in a bear-resistant manner during nighttime hours; burnable attractants must not be buried, discarded or burned in an open campfire.
When travelling by or with livestock into the Wilderness, visitors need to ensure they are using certified weed-seed-free hay and using only the block-form of salt for the livestock.
All of the regulations mentioned above are authorized by special orders enacted by the Helena National Forest Supervisor. Fire activity and restrictions information is posted online, or people can call their local Forest Service office.
We want your trip into the forest or Wilderness to be a memorable and safe one. Be sure that you have an updated map, know the road or trail conditions, know predicted weather forecasts and tell someone where you are going. If you have questions or want more specific information on the regulations, please contact your local Forest Service office.