Burning Restrictions

The three major cities of Flathead County (Kalispell, Whitefish, and Columbia Falls) are categorized as non attainment for particulate pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency. Burning can constitute up to 50% of particulate matter (air pollution) on any given day. Therefore Flathead County has established a control program to minimize the impact of this pollution source. The program requires that any person or entity wishing to burn during the established open burning season comply with conditions set forth below.

Ventilation and Burning Forecast

Open burning begins October 1.  This page will be updated daily with ventilation conditions and any burning restrictions.  Burn permits are not required during October and November.  Open burning is CLOSED during December-February.   

Friday, November 28- Sunday, November30:  Burning is allowed. All fires must be extinguished by 12:00AM, Monday, December 1.

Open burning is CLOSED during the months of December, January, and February.  Spring open burning commences March 1.


Burning manmade materials is prohibited.  A Tradewaste Permit is required if burning material produced from construction or operation of any business, trade, industry, or demolition.

Burning is prohibited within the city limits of Kalispell, Columbia Falls, and Whitefish.












Important Dates to Remember

December 1- February 29

No open burning (Season Closed)

March 1-April 30

Open burning. No burning permit required. Air Quality compliance required. 751-8144

May 1-June 30

Burning permit required from DNRC. Air Quality compliance required.

July 1-September 30

No burning in Flathead County and some Lake County RFD's.

October 1-November 30

Open burning. No burning permit required. Air Quality compliance required.

A trade waste permit is required as well if the material to be burned consists of wood or wood products resulting from construction or the operation of any business, trade, industry, or demolition

If you have further questions regarding air quality, please call 751-8130.

  • Impact Zone (pdf)
  • Impact Zone (jpg)
  • Leaves and grass clipping DO NOT burn well.  We encourage composting these items.  They tend to create excessive smoke and burn very slowly.  Consider composting or landfilling these items.
  • Please use caution when you burn.
  • Burning manmade materials is prohibited at any time.
  • Campfires and warming fires are allowed. These fires must not exceed 4 feet in diameter and must consist of materials that do not exceed 3 inches in diameter. DNRC or your local fire district may impose additional restrictions to campfires and warming fires when necessary due to increased fire conditions.
  • Ventilation Hotline number is updated weekdays by 8:40 a.m. at 751-8144.

Burning restrictions will be updated daily on the ventilation hotline, 751-8144.  You must call each day that you burn during the burning seasons, which are described below. The report will be updated by 8:40am on weekdays and by 5:00pm Friday for the weekend.

Additional information and closures:

Flathead National Forest   758-5200
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation  751-2240
All of Region 1 (Northwest United States) National Forest  329-4853 or 329-4854

It is illegal to burn without a permit during the May 1  thru June 30.  It is illegal to burn at all July 1 thru September 30 Forest Fire Season.  Violators can be fined for the cost of extinguishing an illegal fire. 

Burning permits are not required for campfires.  Under state law, a campfire is defined as a fire set for cooking, warming or ceremonial purposes; not more than 4 feet in diameter or height and cleared of overhanging branches.  All combustible material should be cleared at least 1-1/2 times the diameter of the fire.

Never leave your campfire unattended and keep your shovel and bucket handy.  Most importantly, do not abandon your campfire until you are sure your fire is DEAD OUT.  Prevent forest fires, build safe campfires, and stay with them until they are DEAD OUT.  Only YOU can prevent wildfires.

Wood Burning Stoves...

Efficiency rated wood burning stoves are available in local stores.  Ask your local dealers about the Montana Tax Credit for wood burning stoves when you purchase a new efficient wood burning stove.  Burn only clean, dry wood in your stove and do not damp the stove down too much.  A hot fire burns cleaner and produces less creosote buildup in the stovepipe and less smoke in the neighborhood.

Air Quality Compliance Means…
You must burn only agricultural debris and/or wild land debris in accordance within the time frames and conditions specified under Burning Restrictions at the top of this page

Open Burning Means…

You must call the Air Quality Hotline at 751-8144 or visit this web site the day you are planning to burn to determine if there are any restrictions on burning due to air quality. These restrictions are updated daily.

As long as there are no restrictions, you may burn "agricultural debris" and/or "wild land debris" without a permit. Agricultural debris include: debris created from farming, ranching, and gardening. Wild land debris includes: natural accumulations of needles, grasses, shrubs, limbs and trees. Unnatural accumulations of fuel that are the result of land management activities such as land clearing and timber harvesting.

Materials Prohibited include:

  • Any wastes which are moved from the premise where it was generated, including that moved to a solid waste disposal site (except as provided for in Sub-chapter 2, Rule 207, Rule 208, and Rule 209) Food Wastes
  • Styrofoam and other plastics
  • Wastes generating noxious odors
  • Wood and wood by-products other than trade wastes *(unless a public or private garbage hauler, or rural container system is unavailable)
  • Trade Waste which includes solid, liquid or gaseous material resulting from construction or the operation of any business, trade, industry or demolition operation (including but not limited to wood, wood products, plastic, cartons, grease, oil, chemicals and cinders). Certain trade wastes can be burned by permit only. Call 751-8130 for more information and to request a permit application.
  • Poultry litter
  • Animal droppings
  • Dead animals or animal parts
  • Tires or rubber materials
  • Asphalt shingles or tar paper (except as provided in Sub-chapter 2, Rule 206)
  • Automobiles bodies and interiors
  • Insulated wire (except as provided in Sub-chapter 2, Rule 206)
  • Oil or petroleum products (except as provided in Sub-chapter 2, Rule 206)
  • Treated lumber and timbers
  • Pathogenic wastes
  • Hazardous wastes as defined by 40 CFR Part 261
  • Trade wastes (except as provided in Sub-chapter 2; Rule 207, Rule 208, and Rule 209)
  • Any materials resulting from a salvage operation
  • Chemicals