Mount Sentinel to close Monday due to extreme fire danger, Pearl Jam concert

The slopes of Mount Sentinel will not be an option for Pearl Jam fans looking for free seats for Monday night’s concert. (Missoula Current file photo)

At the request of fire officials, all public lands on Mount Sentinel will be closed on Monday because of the Pearl Jam concert at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The closure was prompted by the extreme fire danger and the Stage 2 fire restrictions already in effect.

Gordy Hughes, the city of Missoula’s assistant fire chief, said the decision came Friday after talks between officials at the University of Montana and the city Fire Department. The danger to public safety, should dozens or hundreds of Pearl Jam fans climb the hillside for the “free seats,” is simply too severe, he said.

The closure runs from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Tuesday.

It includes all trails and land owned by the city and the university on Mount Sentinel, including the M Trail, trails that branch off the Sentinel Fire Road and Pattee Canyon Drive, and trails from the Kim Williams Natural Area.

In a written statement, university officials said officers will patrol the mountain sides and trails, and trespassers could be ticketed as well as removed.

The announcement came after federal, state, city and county fire agencies enacted Stage 2 fire restrictions at 12:01 a.m. Friday, as the region headed into a day forecast to bring record-breaking temperatures well over 100 degrees.

The Stage 2 restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.

Stage 2 fire restrictions prohibit:

Fires or campfires.

Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is clear of all flammable material.

Operating motor vehicles off designated roads and trails.

Between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m., there can be no operation of any internal combustion engine, welding or operating a torch with an open flame, or use of explosives. During hours when such activities are allowed, a one-hour foot patrol in the work area is required once work has ended.

Fires are allowed if they are solely fueled by liquid petroleum (LPG fuels) that can be turned on and off. But those devices can only be used in areas at least 3 feet in diameter that are clear of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials.

The restrictions were issued by all federal, tribal, state, county and municipal fire protection agencies in west-central Montana. They apply to national forests, federal wildlife refuges, state lands, tribal lands, city and county open space land, and parks.

The Northern Rockies Coordinating Group said these agencies will enforce the prohibitions:

* Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes

* Bitterroot National Forest (except in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho)

* Lolo National Forest (except in the Scapegoat Wilderness)

* Montana DNRC, including all state and private classified forest land in Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral and Sanders counties

* Montana FWP Fishing Access Sites, state parks, and Wildlife Management Areas in Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties

* Sanders County private land outside of city limits

* Missoula County private land outside of city limits (except Missoula)

* Missoula city open space and conservation lands within the city limits

Areas affected by the restrictions include city conservation and park lands on Mount Jumbo; Mount Sentinel, including the Cox Property; North Hills; the Kim Williams Trail; Greenough Park; and the Tower Street conservation area, as well as all other city conservation lands.

(A city parks, trails and open space map is available online at http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/468/available-maps. The printed map is also available at Missoula Parks and Recreation, 600 Cregg Lane.