NewsWildfire Watch


Holter Lake water recreation restricted due to "Superscooper" operations

"Scooper" plane skims Holter Lake
"Scooper" plane skims Holter Lake
"Scooper" plane skims Holter Lake
Posted at 4:54 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 11:19:16-04

HOLTER LAKE — Holter Lake remained closed on Thursday as "scooper" planes skimmed the northern end of the lake, filling their holds with water to drop on the Harris Mountain Fire that is burning about 10 miles south of the town of Cascade.

The closure was announced on Wednesday afternoon; the area from Log Gulch Campground to Holter Dam is closed to all public occupation and recreation, including floating, swimming, wading and boating. The Gates of the Mountains area and the upper reservoir are still open to recreation.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks announced on Thursday that Holter Lake will re-open to recreational boating and other uses at 8 p.m. on Friday, August 6.

“We pulled our boat out yesterday morning to go fuel it down at Wolf Creek and then put back in, and I was tying my boat up to the dock and the game warden came down and said that they were closing the lake for the planes, so we lucked out and were able to stay on the on the lake. Just hug the shoreline and go up to the Gates Of The Mountain and do everything normal and just stay out of the main body of the lake,” said Todd Wilkins.

Wilkins and many other visitors to Holter Lake were stopped due to the fire mitigation efforts for the Harris Mountain Fire.

Two CL-4-15 Superscoopers are being used to attack nearby fires and slow their spread. The planes need a lot of room to safely take water from the lake.

“The aircraft has to have about a mile of open water to be able to scoop up the water and take it over to the hot spots of the fire,” said Northern Rockies Incident Management Team public information officer Jacque Lavelle.

The two Superscoopers can carry around 1,600 gallons of water and make a turnaround time of 10 minutes. It's an effective and impressive sight to see.

Part of Holter Lake closed due to fire-fighting efforts
Part of Holter Lake closed due to fire-fighting efforts

“One of the planes came up over us, then my wife stopped, saw the shadow, so it came up over and flew right over us when we're going through the canyon on the way down to the Gates Of The Mountains, so that was cool,” said Wilkins.

The Harris Mountain Fire is still growing to the south, having burned 32,000 acres as of Thursday, with about 20 percent containment. A total of 281 personnel have been assigned to the fire.

“We're seeing is the southwest end of the fire is still fairly hot there are areas that are inaccessible, it's very rough terrain very rocky difficult to access, and that's where we're seeing that fire is still very active; the area is known as Devil's Kitchen and I think it's well titled,” said Lavelle.

Lavelle says this season has been strenuous and wants to remind the public that there is still a red flag warning in place due to gusty winds and high temperatures.

“This is a really difficult fire season and let's not make it any worse,” said Lavelle.