To learn about seasonal fire positions, please see our Seasonal Firefighter page.
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge uses prescribed fire in two main management areas: habitat restoration and maintenance, and hazardous fuels reduction. Resource management prescribed burning is used to restore, create, and/or maintain a diversity of plant communities in order to restore and perpetuate native plant and wildlife species. Hazardous fuels reduction burning alone or in combination with mechanical and/or chemical means are occasionally done to reduce the risk of damage from wildfire to refuge developments, private in-holdings, sensitive resources, and private and state lands outside of the CMR boundary.
In recent years, wildland fire on the CMR has become somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. From 1992 to 2002 the refuge experienced almost consistent fire seasons where the refuge would average roughly 13 wildfires a year that would burn roughly 4000 acres of land in the Missouri Breaks. However, recently the fire seasons have become more and more unpredictable as was the case in 2006 when the refuge burned over 80,000 acres of land just on the refuge alone. The 2012 fire season would be considered a return to normal, with 17 fires on the refuge burning over 10,000 acres. In addition to initial attack on CMR, assist to cooperators show CMR resources on another 22 fires in our dispatch area. It is impossible to say what will happen in any given year with wildland fire at the Charles M. Russell NWR. However, if the refuge continues to receive prolonged drought and fairly dry winters, conditions will be high to extreme for wildland fires in the years to come.
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The refuge was named in recognition of this colorful western artist who often portrayed the refuge’s landscape in his paintings and whose conservation ethic was years ahead of his time.