Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Open BurningĀ 

Program Overview

DEQ strives to provide residents every opportunity to burn without endangering public health.

Open burning is regulated because smoke from open burning can have serious health effects if released to the atmosphere during times of poor ventilation. 

Open Burning is allowed year-round, however, requirements to obtain a dispersion forecast prior to burning vary by season.

  • During the Spring and Summer no DEQ dispersion forecast is needed.
  • During the Fall DEQ issues county-wide restrictions based on the dispersion forecast.
  • During the Winter opportunities to burn based on dispersion forecasts are granted on a case-by-case basis.
    • DEQ reviews the atmospheric conditions daily across the state and determines where it is safe to burn from an air quality perspective and where burning may cause health impacts.
  • Certain counties operate their own open burning programs. These counties must be contacted prior to burning.

For more information see the “Why Can’t I Burn” brochure.



Meteorological Services & Smoke Forecasting
(406) 444-0283

Open Burning Permits
(406) 444-1452

Main Line - (406) 444-3940

The DEQ operates a year round open burning program as well as issues air quality open burning permits for specific types of open burning.  

This flyer - Open Burning and Air Quality  - has general information related to minor open burning. 

Open Burning closures and dispersion forecast information is available here

A map of open burn airsheds is available here.

For a complete description of the open burning regulations, please refer to the ARM Title 17 Section 8 Subchapter 6.

The following is a list of the types of permits issued by the Air Permitting Program.  A DEQ permit must be obtained for these types of burning before burning begins.  

Type of Burning Permit

Type Permit
& Instructions



Additional Information
Winter Time Open Burning Dec. 1 Through Feb. 28 No Charge Permission for specific burns is approved in cases where burning is considered essential.
Landfill March 1 Through Nov. 30 Collected from solid waste management system license  
Trade Waste March 1 Through Nov. 30 $100.00 Any solid, liquid or gaseous material resulting from the construction or operation of any business, trade, industry, or demolition project.  These permits may be issued for wood or wood byproduct trade wastes generated by any business, industry trade, or demolition project.
Firefighter Training Entire Year $25.00 All training exercises held by any fire department must have a permit.
Emergency Open Burning Entire Year $100.00 Applicant must contact DEQ for further information before burning.

Note:  Applicant must demonstrate that the substance to be burned poses an immediate threat to the public health and safety, or plant or animal life, and that no immediate alternative for disposal is reasonably available.
Commercial Grower Christmas Tree Waste March 1 Through Nov. 30 $100.00 For the disposal of Christmas Tree waste from the producers of Christmas Trees.
Commercial Film Production March 1 Through Nov. 30 $100.00 For open burning conducted during commercial film production.
Major Open Burning Generally March 1 Through Nov. 30 Greater of $350.00 and fee calculated on previous years burning Any source that has the potential to emit 500 tons per calendar year of carbon monoxide or 50 tons per calendar year of any other regulated pollutant.

Note:  DEQ (in cooperation with several other counties), operates a Major Open Burning Smoke Management Program.  Please see the Smoke Management Group website.

County Burning Contacts

Specific counties or impact zones have their own open burning programs and must be contacted directly to receive the proper air quality open burning permit prior to burning.  If burning will take place in one of these counties you must first contact the county before any burning takes place.

County Telephone
Cascade City-County Health Dept. (406) 454-6950
Flathead City-County Health Dept. (406) 751-8144
Lincoln County Health Dept. (406) 283-2443
Missoula City-County Health Dept.
Northern Missoula County Hotline
(406) 258-4755
(406) 258-4900
(406) 677-2899
Yellowstone Air Pollution Control (406) 256-6841

Wintertime Open Burning Map 2021

View Larger Map >>

Western Burn Zone Dispersion Discussion and Forecast (Wednesday, Dec. 8):

High-pressure ridging combined with a strong jet stream aloft and a short wave disturbance propagating through at mid-levels makes for a breezy day at the surface Wednesday, and overall excellent burn zone ventilation for this time of year. Precipitation and icing are likely in the northwest half of the burn zone during the early hours of Wednesday morning. High wind warnings have been issued for Glacier County and the Rocky Mountain Front through Wednesday evening. By mid-day Wednesday, an inflection point in the jet stream passes over, marking the transition between ridging and the next cold front trough. Thursday and Friday are expected to be cooler and dominated by a fairly dry trough coming down from Canada. Thursday the upper-level pressure gradient relaxes and winds are expected to let-up compared to Wednesday. Ventilation will still achieve marginal to good ranges in most locations due to the passing of a short wave trough. Cooler, unstable air Wednesday afternoon through Friday is likely to generate accumulating snow in the mountains and along mountain passes. The active weather pattern is expected to continue as western Montana will begin to feel the effects of a heavily moisture-laden Pacific trough Sunday that is expected to dominate burn zone weather for the first part of next week.

Information regarding DNRC fire safety restrictions is included on the map above. Further information can be found at this DNRC link. Keep track of hourly particulate concentrations at and please burn safely!

March through August Open Burning Instructions:

How To Burn:
  1. Obtain a permit from your local county fire control authority (many counties can be found here).

  2. On the day of your burn, activate your county permit here.

  3. Be aware of local conditions and burn smart.

  4. Check back here on September 1 for fall burning restrictions.

Fall Burning Instructions - September 1 through November 30

During the fall season, burning is regulated by county in the western burn zone. Each day, county restrictions are posted on the Burn Restrictions map  and on the ventilation hotline 800-225-6779.

Prior to burning you must obtain a permit from your local county fire control authority.

After you have obtained a county burn permit:

  1. Ensure that there are no burning restrictions due to fire safety concerns.
    • Montana fire restrictions are posted on this Montana DNRC map.
    • Check with your county government for local burning restrictions.
  2. Determine if you are in the western or eastern burn zone.
    1. If you are in the western burn zone:
      1. Check the Burn Restriction map or call the Ventilation Hotline at 800-225-6779 for any air quality restrictions the day of the burn.
      2. If there are no restrictions for either fire danger or air quality be aware of local conditions and burn smart.
    2. If you are in the eastern burn zone, be aware of local conditions and burn smart.

Please call 406-444-3490 if you have any questions.

Winter Burning Instructions - December 1 through February 28/29

One or two weeks before you wish to burn:
  • Confirm you are in the western burn zone.
  • Obtain a permit from your local county fire control authority.
  • Submit a Winter Time Open Burning Request Form to DEQ. 
    • PDF version
    • Word version
    • Or call 406-444-3490 to request a copy of the form
  • You will receive an email from with the status of your burn request. 
    • If your burn application is approved, the email will include a Burner Identification Number (Burner ID).
  • Confirm that your burn location is correct by searching for your Burner ID in the Burn Requests & Restrictions Map above.
    • If your burn is not shown in the correct location, please email or call 406-444-0283.
One or two days before you wish to burn:
The morning you wish to burn:
  • Check the Burn Restriction & Request map for any new restrictions.
  • Call the meteorologist at 406-444-0283. Have the following information ready:
    • Burn Identification Number (Burner ID) 
    • Number of piles you would like to burn that day
    • Number of hours you plan to burn.
  • The meteorologist will either approve, approve with specified conditions, or deny your request.
    • Once a decision has been made, the requested burn will appear on the Burn Restriction and Request Map.
  • If your burn has been approved, activate your local county fire control permit (many counties can be found here).
After you have completed all burns for the winter season:
  • Please email or call 406-444-0283 to remove your Burner ID from the website.

Agencies and companies that conduct prescribed burns on large amounts of land are considered Major Open Burners in Montana. Examples include federal and state agencies and large lumber companies.

Major burners typically treat over 5,000 acres of land every year with prescribed fire. More coordination with DEQ’s Air Quality Bureau is required to accomplish large-scale burning with minimal air quality impacts. These sources are regulated under the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM), Chapter 17.8.6 – Open Burning.  

Each year, the Air Quality Bureau issues a Major Open Burn Permit to those entities that meet the definition in ARM 17.8.601.

For  Major Open Burn decisions and locations, visit the  Montana/Idaho Airshed Group page.



Number Name Date

The following material may not be disposed of by open burning (see ARM 17.8.604):

  • Any waste which is moved from the premises where it was generated unless approval is granted by the department on a case-by-case basis
  • Food wastes
  • Styrofoam and other plastics
  • Wastes generating noxious odors
  • Wood and wood byproducts that have been coated, painted, stained, treated, or contaminated by a foreign material
  • Poultry litter
  • Animal droppings
  • Dead animals or dead animal parts
  • Tires
  • Rubber materials
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Tar paper
  • Automobile or aircraft bodies and interiors
  • Insulated wire
  • Oil or petroleum products
  • Treated lumber and timbers
  • Pathogenic wastes
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Trade wastes
  • Any materials resulting from a salvage operation
  • Chemicals
  • Christmas tree waste
  • Asbestos or asbestos-containing materials
  • Standing or demolished structures containing prohibited material
  • Paint
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