Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 4. Control of Timber Slash and Debris

Fire Hazard Reduction Agreement And Bond -- Bond Release And Penalty -- Exemption

76-13-408. Fire hazard reduction agreement and bond -- bond release and penalty -- exemption. (1) Before cutting any forest product, constructing or reconstructing any road in contemplation of cutting any forest product, or conducting timber stand improvement, such as but not limited to precommercial thinning, weeding, or pruning, upon private forest lands within the state, the person conducting the work must be issued an exemption certificate by the department or shall provide for the reduction or management of the fire hazard to be created, except where a minimum slash hazard would exist, by entering into a fire hazard reduction agreement or a master fire hazard reduction agreement with the department, providing for the full and faithful compliance with all requirements under this part and the faithful reduction or management of the fire hazard in the manner prescribed by law and by rules adopted under this part.

(2) Either the person conducting the work or the purchaser, as provided in 76-13-409(2), shall post a bond to the state in a form and for an amount prescribed by the department, but the amount may not exceed $6 for each 1,000 board feet (log scale) or the equivalent if forest products other than logs are cut. Bond amounts for master fire hazard reduction agreements are calculated to cover the potential cost to the department for fire hazard abatement in case of default and are based on the average annual volume of uncompleted abatement. Master fire hazard reduction agreement bonds are to be administered as nonsite-specific umbrella bonds, for which the entire bond or any portion of the bond may be collected to pay for unabated fire hazards on all sites covered by the bond. The department shall review master fire hazard reduction agreement bond amounts at least annually. The bonds must be adjusted according to the volume of timber harvested and the level of compliance of the bond provider.

(3) The agreement must provide that:

(a) all fire hazard reduction or management work comprising nonburning methods and preparations for burning must be completed within 18 months of commencement of cutting in the area covered by the agreement; and

(b) all burning work must be completed as specified in the agreement and in compliance with rules adopted under this part.

(4) The bond must be released upon the issuance of the certificate of clearance. At the request of the fire hazard reduction agreement holder, cash bonds for fire hazard reduction agreements exceeding 200,000 board feet, or the equivalent, must be partially released upon satisfactory completion of slash piling if the fire hazard reduction agreement holder has a record of compliance with the provisions of 76-13-407 or this section. The department may inspect the sites for which release or partial release is being requested, or it may rely on the submittal of a signed affidavit provided by the person posting the bond. A person that submits a fraudulent affidavit is subject to the penalty provisions of 45-7-202, may have other fire hazard reduction agreements revoked, or may be denied the issuance of fire hazard reduction agreements in the future.

(5) If a minimum slash hazard will be created, the activity is exempt from the provisions of this part.

History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 207, L. 1959; amd. Sec. 27, Ch. 253, L. 1974; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 522, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 28-404; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 423, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 513, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 577, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 10, Ch. 27, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 279, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 234, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 242, L. 2003.