Contact: Flathead National Forest, Spotted Bear Ranger District, 406-758-6470 or -5376
What: Lightning-caused wildland fires
Status: The Little Salmon Complex comprises 15 active fires. Seven of them are Wildland Fire Use fires; eight are in suppression strategy. Fuels in the complex include ponderosa pine, larch, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, and whitebark pine. These fires are creating a mosaic pattern consisting of stand replacement timber and varied age classes, as is naturally found in the Wilderness.
Summary of Activity: This summary applies to all sixteen fires in the Little Salmon Complex. Temperatures on Thursday only reached 49 degrees with .08” of rain at 4,639 near Big Prairie. Spotted Bear received drizzle on and off during the day, and was mostly cloudy.
Most fires were quite again today. GPS flights were accomplished, providing a more accurate perimeter line and acreage amount. Fire crews were able to accomplish some rehabilitation and trail opening work on trails around the Big Prairie and Black Bear areas.
On Friday, fire crews will continue to do rehabilitation work, pulling hose and sprinkler systems and structure protection equipment and materials. Crews will also winterize pumps and sprinkler systems.
CLOSURES – The Spotted Bear Ranger District is preparing to lift some of the area closures within the Little Salmon Complex this weekend, in time for the early rifle season. Announcement of the change in closures will be through the local media, agency web sites, and fact sheets. It is expected that this information will be available Friday September 12th.
The East Side Reservoir Road 38 is open. The area north of Spotted Bear River Road 568 is open, but the part south of the road remains closed. Spotted Bear River Trail 83 is open 2 miles to Blue Lakes.
The West Side Reservoir Road 895 remains closed from Highway 2 south to Spotted Bear Ranger Station because of the numerous fires in the Blackfoot Lake Complex.
WILDERNESS CLOSURE INFORMATION: The following closures remain in effect until lifted.
On the Flathead National Forest, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, the entire South Fork Flathead River drainage, as well as the Spotted Bear River and Dean Creek drainages, are closed to entry. The Danaher area is closed to entry. The Middle Fork of the Flathead River drainage in the Wilderness remains open and is accessible from Highway 2 and from east side trailheads.
On the Lewis and Clark National Forest, the upper South Fork Sun River Drainage area has been closed to public use. The Indian Creek and Ahorn area, east of White River Pass remains closed. The Falls Creek area north of the Snow Talon fire remains closed.
On the Helena National Forest, the Scapegoat Wilderness west of Sourdough Creek and Trail 479 is open. The eastern portion of the Scapegoat Wilderness on the Helena National Forest remains closed.
The Lolo National Forest portion of the Scapegoat Wilderness remains open.
Location: The Little Salmon Complex is located 47 miles southeast of Kalispell, Montana, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
41,732 acres in Fire Use strategy: Little Salmon Creek: 37,098 acres (+6,999); Pagoda Mountain: 320 acres; Independence Park: 152 acres (+84); Salmon Point: 0.1 acre; Little Hammer: 4 acres; Lime Creek: 2,624 acres (+4). (Note 333 acre Casey Creek fire was absorbed by Little Salmon Creek fire)
44,352 in suppression strategy: Mid: 11,213 acres; Gyp Mountain: 4,992 (+1,101); Some Creek: 11,772 acres (+73); Gordon: 14,467 acres (+1,702); Molly Creek: 43 acres; High: 122 acres; Leota Peak: 1,740 acres; and Crimson: 3 acres.
86,084 total acres
Concerns: Firefighter and public safety, aviation, and the effects of smoke on surrounding communities.
Resource Benefits: Preserving natural processes will be the key benefit of restoring fire to the wilderness. In addition, this fire will help to minimize future threats to firefighters and wilderness users by restoring more natural burn patterns on the landscape. Future fire size and intensity will be reduced by breaking up the landscape with these natural ignitions. Note that the fire perimeter acres are just the outside edge of the fire. Some acres have burned hot, some areas have burned in a mosaic pattern, and some areas have not burned at all.
The Small Business Administration approved a disaster declaration, allowing qualified small businesses affected by the fires and closures to apply for assistance. The SBA has scheduled public meetings.
Jurisdiction: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service - Flathead National Forest, Spotted Bear Ranger District.
Resources on Fire: Dick Rath’s fire use team is managing the Little Salmon Complex. District and other resource overhead and field people continued making visitor contacts and implementing structure protection measures on administrative cabins and the Spotted Bear Ranger Station. Approximately 57 personnel worked directly related to this fire complex on both the fire use and suppression fires.
Trail Closures: On the Spotted Bear Ranger District access to trailheads for Meadow Creek and Gorge Creek and the entire South Fork Flathead River drainage of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Spotted Bear River and Dean Creek drainages are also closed.
The West Side Reservoir Road 895 remains closed due to fire activity.
The Rocky Mountain Ranger District of the Lewis and Clark National Forest has closed several trails east of the Little Salmon Complex: Ahorn Creek Area - Indian Creek #211; Ahorn Creek #209; and East Fork Ahorn #225. Falls Creek Area - #229 from the Lewis and Clark National Forest boundary 1 mile south of County Road 577 (Dearborn River Road) to the Forest boundary at the Continental Divide; #266 from the junction with #229 to the Forest boundary at the Continental Divide; #219 from the junction with #229 to the Forest boundary at Red Mountain; West of Benchmark Trailhead in the Upper South Fork of the Sun River - #202 from the junction of #226 to its southern terminus; #226 from the Continental Divide to the junction with #202; #227 from the Continental Divide to the junction with #202; #246 from the Continental Divide to the junction with #202; #248; #247.
On Helena National Forest lands, all lands east of Sourdough Creek and Trail 479 in the Scapegoat Wilderness, remain closed. The western part of the Scapegoat Wilderness is now open.
NOTE: The Lolo National Forest portion of the Scapegoat Wilderness is open to public use.
Trail and areas affected by the fires will be reopened as soon as trail crews can remove debris and ensure that traveling in the area is reasonably safe. Please be aware that safety is our number one concern and that we will open these areas when we are assured that there is a minimal safety risk from fire. Make sure that you are aware of current fire restrictions and area closures before you head outdoors.
Trailheads for Monture; North Fork Blackfoot; Benchmark; West, Middle, and South forks of the Teton River; Morrison Creek; Bear Creek and other trailheads can still be used to access open areas in and outside of wilderness.
Community meetings: meetings held 9/6, 9/7, and 9/8 at 9:00 am with the 3 local resorts.
[ Back to Top ]
Flathead National Forest