Specifically, the order closes BLM lands lying within T13N, R13W, sections 13-16, and 19-36—roughly the public lands east of Elevation Mountain where the Elevation Fire is actively burning. Unless permitted in writing by the authorized officer, the public is prohibited from going into or being upon any lands designated in the closure order.
“The safety of the public and our firefighters is our first and foremost concern,” said Rich Torquemada, Manager of the Missoula Field Office, who said the decision to close the public lands was made after close consultation with the Incident Management Team (Type 2) for the Elevation Fire and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
“We’ve had some unpredictable fire behavior, bordering on extreme fire activity,” Torquemada added. “Based on the weather, topography and fuel conditions in the area, we’re doing the best we can to ensure the public’s safety. The weather forecast for the near future calls for high winds, high temperatures, lightning, and very little wetting moisture. This could impede firefighting efforts and rapidly expand the fire perimeter within the closure area.”
The area is popular with recreationalists—especially hunters during this time of year.
“This closure will be rescinded once the Elevation Fire is contained and controlled, or until conditions warrant the closure is no longer necessary for public and firefighter safety,” said Western Montana BLM District Manager Rick Hotaling. “Our goals are to provide for public and firefighter safety, to keep the fire as small as possible while protecting the resources at risk, and to open up the land again as soon as we feel it’s safe to do so.”
Exemptions from the closure order include the following: those with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act; emergency repair of public utilities and railroads; persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice; any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty; and other exemptions unique to each agency.
A copy of the order and a map of the closure area can be seen online at http://inciweb.org/incident/3205/ . They are also available at the Missoula Field Office, 3255 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT 59804. For more information, call (406) 329-3914.
For the latest BLM news and updates visit us on the web at: www.blm.gov/mt and on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/BLMMontana.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land – the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.