Minnesota DNR: Please, please, please, compost instead of burning your yard waste

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Just like we have all been told since we were kids: “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

And Smokey the Bear was right – at least according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). And for now? The DNR is encouraging Minnesotans, especially those who are woodland property owners, to use composting as a method to get rid of yard waste instead of burning it.

Why?

Fire prevention supervisor Casey McCoy explains the risks of burning yard waste; “Burning should be a last resort for yard waste – especially in April and May, when wildfire risk is especially high. Composting prevents wildfires and reduces air pollution, so it’s the safest possible way to manage yard debris.”

If you are interested in composting and don’t know where to start, this page from the University of Minnesota Extension is a fantastic resource.

Now, if you really want to burn your yard waste – if you’re a fire bug, or you don’t have the ability to compost – then now (right now) is the time to burn your yard waste: Three inches of snow significantly reduces the chances that a fire will escape and burn unintended areas. A fire that escapes can get out of control can endanger lives, homes, and neighboring properties. Also, keep in mind that if a yard waste fire does escape and spread resulting in damage, the homeowner is responsible for any damage it does to nearby property. Annual burning restrictions will take effect immediately after snowmelt occurs, which will happen soon in parts of Minnesota.

Although a DNR burning permit is not required in many locations where there is sufficient snow, be sure to check local regulations prior to burning. If you are in need of a burn permit, you can apply for one on this page.

Once burning restrictions are issued, debris burning will be banned, and no permits will be issued until further notice.

More information on current burn restrictions can be found here.

As of 4/9, burning permits are required in the following counties:

Anoka, Big Stone, Carver, Chippewa, Chisago, Dakota, Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Isanti, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mcleod, Meeker, Mower, Olmsted, Pine, Pipestone, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Swift, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Winona, Yellow Medicine.