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Help Drought-Proof Montana State Parks


Fri Jul 20 00:00:00 MDT 2001

Some of Montana's 42 State Parks may be in the drought's potential line of fire this summer. "While the show must go on, there are a lot of common sense things people can do to help protect the natural, cultural and historical features of our parks," said Doug Monger, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks State Parks administrator. While many steps parks visitors can take are simple common sense, the precautions may be critical in areas where fire danger is extreme due to the drought.

Monger recommends the following precautions:

  • Pack a pick, shovel, axe, bucket, extra water, battery operated flashlights or lanterns and other supplies that would be useful in a fire or other emergency.
  • Follow all FWP regulations and use-restrictions posted to safeguard the resources.
  • Camp only in developed campgrounds.
  • Build fires in established fireplaces or fire rings. Attend fires at all times and completely extinguished them when leaving the area. Pour water on black coals and stir the coals to ensure no sparks or live embers remain.
  • Check on the status of local streams and lakes. Fishing restrictions may be applied to rivers, streams and lakes when and where extremely low water levels begin to stress fish.
  • Park automobiles on improved gravel or dirt surfaces and avoid driving or parking on unimproved roads with high grass growing in the center of the tracks. Catalytic converters on many cars may cause very dry grasses to spark and catch fire.
  • In some cases, local potable water sources may be limited or unavailable, so check ahead and consider carrying water in plastic gallon jugs.
  • Plan to pack out trash in remote areas, taking extra caution to remove flammable materials.
  • Don't smoke in areas experiencing severe drought. Do not throw cigarette butts out the car window, even on improved roads.

"No matter how dry it gets, we have the comfort of knowing the cool Montana fall is close behind summer," Monger said. "But in the meantime, let's take extra care with our state parks and other recreational areas."