Neighborhood NewsRocky Mountain Front


Prescribed burn soon at Sun River Wildlife Management Area

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 20:19:02-05

GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, working with the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest, will conduct a 200-acre prescribed burn at the Sun River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which is west/northwest of Augusta.

Burning is expected to start in the next few days; the exact date depends on the weather. Smoke from the WMA may be visible at times from Choteau, Augusta, and Great Falls.

FWP said in a news release that a winter burn to follow-up on previous conifer-thinning treatments is ideal to remove downed trees, reduce fuel loads and stimulate vegetation growth leading into the spring and summer season.

To minimize smoke impact on communities, the exact timing of the burns will depend on weather, fuel moisture levels and air flow.

The aim of the project is to improve winter range habitat and manage fire resiliency on the 20,000-acre WMA west of Augusta.

This is a short disturbance for long-term benefits for wintering elk, which is the primary focus of management of the WMA,” said FWP area wildlife biologist Brent Lonner. “As partners and neighbors, we are working together with the Forest Service to improve habitat for elk and other wildlife while also improving fire resiliency of the landscape.”

The Sun River WMA is closed to the general public until noon on May 15 in order to minimize disturbance to wintering elk.

For more information, contact Brent Lonner at 406-467-2488 or