Hamilton, Montana (June 29, 2016) – With the 4th of July right around the corner, the Bitterroot National Forest is a great place to get away from the noise of fireworks and enjoy your holiday. With that, a caution that we are in “high” fire danger starting June 29th. When the fire danger is "high", fires can start easily from most causes and small fuels (such as grasses and needles) will ignite readily. Unattended campfires and brush fires are likely to escape. Fires can become serious and difficult to control unless they are put out while they are still small. A few considerations will help ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment:
• Fireworks are not permitted on National Forests. Please leave them at home. Violations are punishable by a fine of $500 or more. Anyone who starts a wildfire can be held liable for suppression costs which can be substantial.
• Never leave a campfire unattended, even a small breeze could quickly cause
the fire to spread. Completely extinguish the fire—by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes until cold—before sleeping or leaving the campsite. Forecasts are for an extremely hot and dry 4th of July and visitors need to be fire safe.
• Most campgrounds on the Forest are open and ready for visitors. Campgrounds fill up quickly. For a complete list of campgrounds and to determine if your favorite campground is one in which you can reserve a site, visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot and click on the Recreation/Cabins and Camping sections. Twin Lakes and Schumaker campground are closed due to the Observation Point Fire.
• Be prepared for changing weather conditions including the potential for afternoon thunderstorms.
• Be cautious around flowing waters and especially at creek crossings.
• Expect heavier traffic than normal on forest roads and trails over the holiday. Drive defensively and notify the Forest Service of any downed trees or road damage so repairs can be made.
• Pack it In–Pack it Out is the best practice for all of your garbage.
Due to safety concerns associated with the Observation Point Fire, there is a forest closure order in place in the Lost Horse Creek drainage from the junction of Lick Creek Road west along the ridgeline to the Montana-Idaho border including Twin Lakes, Schumaker Campground, and Bear Creek Pass Trailhead. For more information on the Observation Point Fire, visit: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4819/
There is still an active timber sale between Lake Como and Lost Horse. Visitors may encounter log trucks and other equipment. Motorists are advised to drive with extra caution in these areas as there may be log trucks traveling the roads during weekdays.
The Magruder Road Corridor between Darby, MT and Paradise is open. However, the road to Elk City, Idaho is currently closed between Kim Creek Saddle and Magruder Crossing for road repairs. For a map of the closure area visit www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot. Magruder Road is suitable for high-clearance vehicles only. Travelers are advised to carry a chainsaw in case of a fallen tree on the road and should be aware that there is no cell phone coverage or services for 120 miles.
A reminder for those heading to Lake Como, you will need a recreation pass for parking. Cost of the passes are $5/vehicle or $30 for a season pass and are available at all Forest Service offices, area retailers including Mr. T’s and People’s Market in Darby and Angler’s Roost, Lone Pine, Town Pump South, Bob Ward’s, and Riverside in Hamilton, and on-site at the recreation area. Day use fees and camping fees are charged at Lake Como from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Please be aware that at this time, drinking water is not available within the Lake Como Recreation Area (including the Lower Como Campground) due to ongoing water system repairs. Please plan accordingly and bring your own drinking water. Thank you for your patience as we work to fix the problem. Contact the Darby/Sula Ranger District for updates and more information.
There is also no potable water available this summer at Blodgett Creek Campground and Warm Springs Campground.
Local hiking and camping books, maps, animal and plant guides and Forest souvenirs are available at the Discover the Bitterroot store in the lobby of the Forest Supervisor’s office at 1801 N. First Street in Hamilton. All Forest Service offices will be closed Monday, July 4th in observance of the federal holiday.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July!
Stay in touch with us through www.facebook.com/DiscoverBitterrootNF and www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF.
Bitterroot National Forest Offices:
Stevensville Ranger District, (406) 777-5461
Darby/Sula Ranger District, (406) 821-3913
West Fork Ranger District, (406) 821-3269
Supervisor’s Office, (406) 363-7100