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Outdoor Recreation Banned in Montana Outside of Cities With AM-Wildfires

September 7, 1988

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Wind-whipped forest blazes across Montana prompted a ban Tuesday on all outdoor recreation on state and federal lands outside cities and towns, Gov. Ted Schwinden and federal agencies said.

The ban imposed by Schwinden, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management applies to all state and federal land, including all rivers and streams, outside cities, towns and national parks, the governor said.

It affects all non-essential activities such as sightseeing, hunting, fishing, boating, rafting, camping, hiking, picnicking and wood-gathering.

Farm work, livestock herding, house-building, mining and logging are allowed. However, Schwinden warned that these activities could be banned unless the fire danger wanes.

Schwinden said the ban will remain until weather conditions ease the fire danger and that probably will require a substantial amount of rain.

The ban came less than a week after the state Fish and Game Commission delayed start of the 1988 hunting season, followed by a plea from Schwinden for Montanans to stay out of the forests over the Labor Day weekend.

For the most part, Schwinden said, his request worked. Although there were 58 new fires started in the state since his Aug. 31 statement, none developed into a major blaze, he said.

The ban on recreation will be enforced by personnel from the Forest Service, BLM, state wildlife agency and the state Lands Department.

Schwinden said violators probably will be warned first before being cited.

Brubaker said the Bureau of Indian Affairs has endorsed the ban and it may be extended to Montana’s seven Indian reservations after the various tribal councils are consulted.

Glacier and Yellowstone national parks were excluded from the ban because the Park Service has its own restrictions on recreation already in place, said John North, attorney for Schwinden.

Fishing guides in Ennis, Helena and Great Falls complained that the ban on floating and angling puts them out of business.

″Banning fishing is ridiculous,″ said Joel Weimer, owner of Helena’s Montana Fly Goods. ″It makes sense to ban fires, smoking and off-road driving, but fishing? All I do is put a raft in the Missouri River from a blacktopped road.″

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