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Following suit with Gallatin County, Bozeman issued an order prohibiting all burning on Wednesday as hot and dry summer conditions and already-strained firefighting resources threaten devastating fires.

The burn ban takes immediate effect and prohibits all open burning and recreational fires in city limits, including outdoor fire pits, chimneys and charcoal grills. Fireworks are banned within city limits at all times, save for exceptions around July 4 and the New Year.

Bozeman Fire Chief Josh Waldo and City Manager Jeff Mihelich signed the order on Wednesday.

The order cites “unseasonably early and repeated record high temperatures,” dry fuel levels and a lack of regional resources to respond to a large fire as reasons for the ban.

Gallatin County commissioners approved an emergency ordinance on Tuesday banning open burns, recreational fires, fireworks, smoking outdoors unless more than 3 feet away from flammable material and driving off road or off trails unless for agricultural purposes for the next 90 days.

“We have excessively dry conditions, and these handful of showers tonight candidly will not make much of an impact whatsoever,” Mihelich said during Tuesday’s city commission meeting. “I think we all can agree that the city and the county when it comes to restrictions like this need to be lockstep, we need to be really consistent.”

Mihelich noted that because there are areas of county land within the city’s borders, having the same restrictions is crucial.

Custer Gallatin National Forest also announced additional fire restrictions taking effect Wednesday, including banning all campfires, even those in designated fire rings. Target shooting is also prohibited outside of designated shooting ranges.

Bozeman City Commissioners declared a stage two drought last week, which puts outdoor watering restrictions into effect, with a goal of reducing water usage by 20% system wide.

The restrictions went into effect on Friday, and ban outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. outright. Anyone can water garden plants, trees and similar vegetation any day of the week, but lawn watering is only permitted two days of the week.

Residents in single-family homes with even addresses are allowed to water their lawns on Sundays and Thursdays, and odd-numbered single-family homes are allowed to water Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Lawn watering is allowed at any other building on Tuesdays and Fridays. No lawn watering is permitted on Mondays.

The drought declaration also establishes water rate surcharges ranging from 10% to 47%, depending on customer class and usage.

Mihelich said Tuesday that the city has already seen a 14% decrease in water demand.

But, Mihelich said the city’s drought tool, which takes into account things like stream flow and reservoir levels, is showing a worse score compared to last week.

“We’re still seeing significant drought conditions,” Mihelich said. “We are a long, long, long way from out of the woods.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at or 406-582-2607.

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