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

Open Burning 

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.

 

Open Burning Contacts

Meteorological Services & Smoke Forecasting
(406) 444-0283

Open Burning Permits
(406) 444-1452

Main Line
(406) 444-3490

If you have questions or issues with submitting your burn request, please contact us at DEQMTSmoke@mt.gov or call 406-444-3490.

Tutorial Videos:

Winter Open Burning (December 1 – February 28/29)

From the beginning of December through the end of February, open burning requires:

  1. A permit from your local fire control authority (https://app.egovmt.com/burnpermit/ )
  1. Approval from the Montana DEQ to burn.

The following counties have their own authority to approve burns: Missoula, Cascade, Yellowstone, Lincoln (inside the air pollution control district), and Flathead.

How to Submit a Winter Burn Request

To submit a winter burn request with Montana DEQ, please follow the steps below.

Step 1: Submit Request
Click the button to submit a new Winter Burn Request Form.

Step 2: Receive Approval
Please wait until you receive approval from Montana DEQ before you conduct your burn.

Step 3: Conduct Burn
Once approved, conduct your burn within the guidelines specified in your approval notification. If you did not complete your burn, please let us know by responding to the survey in your approval notification.

Forecasts

Saturday Dec. 3-5

 

High pressure settles in across the Western Montana burn zone this weekend. It will result in lowering mixing heights, very weak transport winds, and limited ventilation. This should set the stage for strong valley inversions which will limit mixing and could result in air quality issues. The inversions will also limit the amount of warming many of these valleys receive and could result in areas of locally dense morning fog. A system arrives late Sunday into Monday, spreading light to moderate snow across the region. The mountains will see several inches of snow from the storm. The lower elevations across the Western Montana burn zone will also see accumulating snowfall from this system. Unfortunately, the storm will do little to help scour out the valley inversions. Mixing heights should remain low and ventilation will remain meager into the following week. Seasonable temperatures can be expected this weekend followed by much colder air on Monday behind a front. The wintry pattern that was established in November looks to remain entrenched over Montana for the foreseeable future.

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

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

Forms
Type Permit
& Instructions

Season

Fee

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 Program
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.
Hotline
Northern Missoula County Hotline
(406) 258-4755
(406) 258-4900
(406) 677-2899
Yellowstone Air Pollution Control (406) 256-6841

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.

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

DEQ's winter burning request process is changing for 2022-2023. Stay tuned!

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.

 

 

United States Department of Agriculture – Forest Service​United States Fish and Wildlife Service​
Major Burners
PERMIT NUMBER PERMITTEE ISSUE DATE
Number Name Date
SM0006 Pyramid Mountain Lumber January 19, 2022
SM0012 F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. January 4, 2022
SM0002 Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation January 4, 2022
SM0004 United States Department of Agriculture – Forest Service January 4, 2022
SM0008 United States Fish and Wildlife Service January 4, 2022
SM0009 United States Department of Interior – Bureau of Land Management January 4, 2022
SM0005 National Park Service January 4, 2022
SM0011 RY Timber Inc January 4, 2022
SM0030  Stimson Lumber Company January 4, 2022
SM0003 SPP Montana

January 4, 2022

 

SM0013 Flathead Ridge Ranch

January 4, 2022

SM0014  Green Diamond Resource Company

January 4, 2022

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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