Published on : Monday, August 7, 2017
A big portion of Rock Creek Road, which runs along the blue ribbon fishing creek east of Missoula, was restricted to local-only traffic on July 20 as the Goat Creek wildfire crept to within a few hundred yards of homes. The nearby Little Hogback and Sliderock fires also belched smoke into the valley. Carolyn Persico, the long time owner of the Rock Creek Fisherman’s Mercantile said that they were forced to send the tourists to some other rivers. She said that July and August usually make up about 40 percent of the tourism business and with the cancellations, it is really a bad miss.
Fortunately, the annual Testicle Festival at the Rock Creek Lodge is being held the weekend of Aug. 5, so Persico said those guests aren’t cancelling reservations.
Tourists those who are visiting to western Montana will hit a nasty wildfire season unless they cancel it before hand.
The state government spent $21 million fighting fires in the month of July alone, which is the same amount it paid for all of 2016. This spring, which was unusually rainy, forecasters were predicting a moderate fire season. Now that it’s costing the state about $1.5 million a day to fight fires, Montana’s $63 million fire fighting reserve fund will be gone soon and the state will have to dip into the general fund.