Outdoor Air Quality

The Cascade County Air Quality Program works with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to provide continuous monitoring of state and local outdoor air quality. Our local monitoring facility is located at Overlook Park and monitors particulate matter that's 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5).

PM2.5 can travel deep into the lungs causing short and long-term health effects. People with heart and lung disease, children, older adults, and people with diabetes are more sensitive to PM2.5 and can experience serious adverse health effects when air quality is poor. Air quality readings are updated hourly at the DEQ Air Quality website, and activity recommendations are available to help make informed health decisions.

The Air Quality Program also conducts emission inspections of minor point sources with DEQ Air Quality Permits, such as gravel crushers, grain elevators, asphalt plants, and crematoriums.

Learn more from our City-County Health Department (CCHD) Air Quality fact sheet (PDF).

For questions or concerns about local outdoor air quality call CCHD Environmental Health Services at 406-454-6950.

Burning Permits

Open Burning Permits must be acquired before any controlled burn in Cascade County to ensure emergency services are aware of all controlled burns. This prevents emergency services from responding to non-emergency calls. To protect air quality, burning is only allowed during times where there is good air dispersion. Good air dispersion is dependent on the season and weather. 

Cold winter weather, high pressure systems, and inversions can prevent smoke and other air pollutants from rising and mixing into the atmosphere, which can contribute to low outdoor air quality. High fire danger conditions can also limit when you can burn.

Open Burning Permits can be obtained online or by visiting the Clerk and Recorder's Office or the Cascade County Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) Office.

Cascade County Open Burning Permit Resources

Additional information on Cascade County Open Burning Permits can be found at the following links or by calling the Clerk and Recorder's Office at 406-454-6801 or the Cascade County DES at 406-454-6900.

Major Open Burning

Major Open Burning Sources that emit more than 500 tons per year of carbon monoxide or 50 tons per year of other regulated pollutants must be permitted through DEQ Air Quality Bureau. It takes approximately 4,500 tons of wood material in a single year to be categorized as a "Major Open Burner".

Major Open Burning Permits are needed when:

  • Burning more than 100 acres of forest slash or more than 2,000 acres of agricultural burning in one year.
  • Burning clean, untreated wood by-product waste from a business, industrial or demolition project.
  • Engaging in Fire Fighter Training where burning material includes otherwise prohibited materials and structures at a site, other than a solid waste disposal site, for the specific purpose of training firefighters.

Helpful Resources

To apply for a Major Burn Permit contact DEQ at 406-444-5391. For additional information on Major Open Burning and the DEQ Outdoor Air Quality Bureau call 406-444-3490. You can also find information on DEQ permits and general open burning information at the following links: