Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Open BurningĀ 

Program Overview

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality strives to provide residents every opportunity to burn without endangering public health.

Open burning is regulated because smoke from open burning can have serious health effects if released to the atmosphere during times of poor ventilation. 

Open Burning is allowed year-round, however, requirements to obtain a dispersion forecast prior to burning vary by season.

  • During the Spring and Summer no DEQ dispersion forecast is needed.
  • During the Fall DEQ issues county-wide restrictions based on the dispersion forecast.
  • During the Winter opportunities to burn based on dispersion forecasts are granted on a case-by-case basis.
    • DEQ reviews the atmospheric conditions daily across the state and determines where it is safe to burn from an air quality perspective and where burning may cause health impacts.
  • Certain counties operate their own open burning programs. These counties must be contacted prior to burning.

For more information see the “Why Can’t I Burn” brochure.

For Major Open Burn decisions and locations, visit the Montana/Idaho Airshed Group page.


Meteorological Services & Smoke Forecasting
(406) 444-0283

Open Burning Permits
(406) 444-1452

Main Line - (406) 444-3940

The DEQ operates a year round open burning program as well as issues air quality open burning permits for specific types of open burning.  

This flyer - Open Burning and Air Quality  - has general information related to minor open burning. 

Open Burning closures and dispersion forecast information is available here

A map of open burn airsheds is available here.

For a complete description of the open burning regulations, please refer to the ARM Title 17 Section 8 Subchapter 6.

The following is a list of the types of permits issued by the Air Permitting Program.  A DEQ permit must be obtained for these types of burning before burning begins.  

Type of Burning Permit

Type Permit
& Instructions



Additional Information
Winter Time Open Burning Dec. 1 Through Feb. 28 No Charge Permission for specific burns is approved in cases where burning is considered essential.
Landfill March 1 Through Nov. 30 Collected from solid waste management system license  
Trade Waste March 1 Through Nov. 30 $100.00 Any solid, liquid or gaseous material resulting from the construction or operation of any business, trade, industry, or demolition project.  These permits may be issued for wood or wood byproduct trade wastes generated by any business, industry trade, or demolition project.
Firefighter Training Entire Year $25.00 All training exercises held by any fire department must have a permit.
Emergency Open Burning Entire Year $100.00 Applicant must contact DEQ for further information before burning.

Note:  Applicant must demonstrate that the substance to be burned poses an immediate threat to the public health and safety, or plant or animal life, and that no immediate alternative for disposal is reasonably available.
Christmas Tree Waste March 1 Through Nov. 30 $100.00 For the disposal of Christmas Tree waste from the producers of Christmas Trees.
Commercial Film Production March 1 Through Nov. 30 $100.00 For open burning conducted during commercial film production.
Major Open Burning Generally March 1 Through Nov. 30 Greater of $350.00 and fee calculated on previous years burning Any source that has the potential to emit 500 tons per calendar year of carbon monoxide or 50 tons per calendar year of any other regulated pollutant.

Note:  DEQ (in cooperation with several other counties), operates a Major Open Burning Smoke Management Program.  Please see the Smoke Management Group website.

County Burning Contacts

Specific counties or impact zones have their own open burning programs and must be contacted directly to receive the proper air quality open burning permit prior to burning.  If burning will take place in one of these counties you must first contact the county before any burning takes place.

County Telephone
Cascade City-County Health Dept. (406) 454-6950
Flathead City-County Health Dept. (406) 751-8144
Lincoln County Health Dept. (406) 283-2443
Missoula City-County Health Dept.
Northern Missoula County Hotline
(406) 258-4755
(406) 258-4900
(406) 677-2899
Yellowstone Air Pollution Control (406) 256-6841

Burning restrictions, October 22, 2021.

View Larger Map >>

Forecast Discussion (Oct. 22):

On Friday regional weather continues to be dominated by a band warm, dry higher-pressure air building from the south. Gusty southwesterly winds promote efficient mixing, keeping conditions for dispersion good within the southern half of the burn zone. In the northwest corner of the state, however, low mixing layer heights and weak winds will persist throughout the day, limiting conditions for ventilation. Time and elevation restrictions on open burning have therefore been enacted for several counties. By Friday evening, the narrow band of high pressure air keeping much of the area unseasonably warm will exit eastward and western Montana will begin to feel the effects of a significant low pressure weather system moving in from the west. Upper-level winds are expected to strengthen and become more southwesterly promoting good ventilation over the weekend.

Local fire restrictions can be found on this DNRC map. Keep track of hourly particulate concentrations at and burn safely!

Burning Restrictions (Oct. 22):

On Friday open burning in Sanders County is limited to hours between 10AM and 4PM due to poor conditions for dispersion. In Lincoln and Lake counties, open burning is limited to sites above 4000 feet in elevation.


March through August Open Burning Instructions:

How To Burn:
  1. Obtain a permit from your local county fire control authority (many counties can be found here).

  2. On the day of your burn, activate your county permit here.

  3. Be aware of local conditions and burn smart.

  4. Check back here on September 1 for fall burning restrictions.

Fall Burning Instructions September 1 through November 30

During the fall season, burning is regulated by county in the western burn zone. Each day, county restrictions are posted on the Burn Restrictions map  and on the ventilation hotline 800-225-6779.

To determine if you can burn:

  1. Obtain a permit from your local county fire control authority (many counties can be found here).
  2. Ensure that there are no burning restrictions due to fire safety concerns. Montana fire restrictions are posted on this Montana DNRC map. Check with your county government to make sure there are no burning restrictions in your area.
  3. Determine if you are in the western or eastern burn zone.
  4. If you are in the western burn zone:
    1. Check the Burn Restriction map or call the Ventilation Hotline at 800-225-6779 for any air quality restrictions the day of the burn.
    2. If there are no restrictions for either fire danger or air quality be aware of local conditions and burn smart.
  5. If you are in the eastern burn zone, be aware of local conditions and burn smart.

Please call 406-444-3490 if you have any questions.

Winter Burning Instructions (December 1 through February 28/29)

One or two weeks before you wish to burn:
  • Confirm you are in the western burn zone.
  • Obtain a permit from your local county fire control authority (many counties can be found here).
  • Submit a Winter Time Open Burning Request Form to the DEQ. Call 406-444-3490 to request a form or download the PDF or Word version.
  • You will receive an email from with the status of your burn. 
    • If your burn application is approved, the email will include a Burner Identification Number (Burner ID).
  • Confirm that your burn location is correct by searching for your BIN number in the Burn Requests & Restrictions Map above.
    • If your burn is not in the correct location, please call 406-444-3490 or email
One or two days before you wish to burn:
  • Read the Air Quality Discussion located at the bottom of the Burn Restriction map to determine what days may be best to burn.
The morning you wish to burn:
  • Read the Air Quality Discussion located at the bottom of the Burn Restriction map to determine what days may be best to burn.
  • Call the meteorologist at 406-444-3490 the morning you would like to burn. Have the following information ready:
    • Burn Identification Number (Burner ID) 
    • Number of piles you would like to burn that day
    • Number of hours you plan to burn.
  • The meteorologist will either approve, approve with specified conditions, or deny your request.
    • Once a decision has been made, the requested burn will appear on the map below.
  • If your burn has been approved, activate your local county fire control permit (many counties can be found here).
After you have completed all burns for the winter season:
  • Please call 406-444-3490 or email to remove your Burner ID from the website.

The following material may not be disposed of by open burning (see ARM 17.8.604):

  • Any waste which is moved from the premises where it was generated unless approval is granted by the department on a case-by-case basis
  • Food wastes
  • Styrofoam and other plastics
  • Wastes generating noxious odors
  • Wood and wood byproducts that have been coated, painted, stained, treated, or contaminated by a foreign material
  • Poultry litter
  • Animal droppings
  • Dead animals or dead animal parts
  • Tires
  • Rubber materials
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Tar paper
  • Automobile or aircraft bodies and interiors
  • Insulated wire
  • Oil or petroleum products
  • Treated lumber and timbers
  • Pathogenic wastes
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Trade wastes
  • Any materials resulting from a salvage operation
  • Chemicals
  • Christmas tree waste
  • Asbestos or asbestos-containing materials
  • Standing or demolished structures containing prohibited material
  • Paint