By Crystal Thompson
As of 12:01 this morning, Havre and northcentral Montana has been upgraded to level 4 fire restrictions. These restrictions encompass all BLM, Forest Service, state and private forested land.
Under level 4 restrictions, all open fires are prohibited, including all campfires, charcoal fires and use of oil or gas burning stoves and lanterns. Smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building; at an improved place of habitation; at a developed, designated recreation site or campground; or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable material.
Possessing or using motorized vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, quadrunners, or trail bikes is prohibited off of Forest Developed Roads. Use of equipment with internal combustion engines, welding, and blasting complete the list of activities which are prohibited on all State and private forested lands, under the protection of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
Exemptions include those engaged in emergency work including firefighting, fire prevention, and law enforcement, and persons with permits or other written authorization allowing the otherwise prohibited act.
The burn ban that has been in effect for the past two months in the Havre area is still in effect and is being enforced; outdoor burning is currently punishable by law. Landowners and those traveling on land other than that which is strictly prohibited are also asked to restrict use of underdeveloped roads which are not free of vegetation whenever possible.
Beaver Creek Park will remain closed to all recreational activity this Labor Day Weekend. Fresno Lake remains open to recreation, maintaining all Level 4 restrictions. Tiber Reservoir (Lake Elwell), North and South Bootlegger Recreation areas and Devon Recreation area, all in Toole County, will be closed to public use. In Liberty county, Willowcreek recreational area, Island recreational area (including Tiber Marina), the VFW Campground and Sanford Park will be open to recreation, maintaining level 4 restrictions as well.