Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 1. Protection of Forest Resources

Functions Of Department -- Rulemaking

76-13-104. Functions of department -- rulemaking. (1) (a) The department has the duty to ensure the protection of land under state and private ownership and to suppress wildfires on land under state and private ownership. Fees may not be collected for this purpose except fees provided for in 76-13-201.

(b) The department may engage in wildfire initial attack on all lands if the fire threatens to move onto state or private land.

(2) (a) The department shall adopt rules to protect the natural resources of the state, especially the natural resources owned by the state, from destruction by fire and for that purpose, in declared emergencies, may employ personnel and incur other expenses when necessary.

(b) The department may adopt and enforce reasonable rules for the purpose of enforcing and accomplishing the provisions and purposes of part 2 and this part.

(3) The duty imposed on the department under this section is not exclusive to the department and does not absolve private property owners or local governmental fire agencies organized under Title 7, chapter 33, from any fire protection or suppression responsibilities.

(4) The department may give technical and practical advice concerning forest, range, water, and soil conservation and the establishment and maintenance of woodlots, windbreaks, shelterbelts, and fire protection.

(5) The department shall cooperate with all public and other agencies in the development, protection, and conservation of the forest, range, and water resources in this state.

(6) The department shall establish and maintain wildland fire control training programs.

(7) The department shall appoint firewardens in the number and localities that it considers necessary and shall adopt rules prescribing the qualifications and duties of firewardens that are in addition to those provided in 76-13-116.

(8) The department shall adopt rules addressing development within the wildland-urban interface, including but not limited to:

(a) best practices for development within the wildland-urban interface; and

(b) criteria for providing grant and loan assistance to local government entities to encourage adoption of best practices for development within the wildland-urban interface.

(9) (a) The department shall establish a good neighbor policy that would allow the department to enter into a cooperating and coordinating agreement or contract that authorizes the state forester to engage in forest management and education activities to:

(i) reduce wildland fire risk and intensity on federal land designated as wildland-urban interface under 76-13-145; and

(ii) take advantage of federal authority that promotes sustainable forest management.

(b) Forest management activities to reduce wildland fire risk and intensity included in the good neighbor policy must include the authority to:

(i) treat insect-infested trees;

(ii) reduce hazardous fuels; and

(iii) conduct any other activities to improve the overall diversity and vigor of forested landscapes.

(10) The department has the authority to intervene in litigation or appeals on federal forest management projects that involve reduction of hazardous fuels or other activities to mitigate the risk of wildland fire in the wildland-urban interface.

History: En. Sec. 6, Ch. 128, L. 1939; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 253, L. 1974; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 397, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 28-106(1), (4), (6); amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 529, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 423, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 34, Ch. 336, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 172, L. 2009; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 206, L. 2013; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 401, L. 2013; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 437, L. 2017.