The Ravalli County Commissioners have designated March 1 through November 30 as Open Burn Season, where people can do land-clearing, slash or debris burning or ditchbank burning. There are rules, however.

A burn permit must be obtained at the statewide "burn permits" website or in person at the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office in Hamilton. After you get the permit, then on the day you plan to burn, you'll need to "activate" the permit at the burn permit website or by calling 1-866-212-6318. That will help local authorities determine if a smoke in the valley is uncontrolled or planned. Of course, if your controlled burn decides to spread the wrong way, call 9-1-1 to get help. A couple of tips - have a ready supply of water and volunteers, have a plan, and don't burn in the afternoons (when the valley winds change directions). And, if the fire danger increases in the area, the open burning season will close.

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