With minimal snow this winter and warming February temperatures, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) anticipates early snow melt. This means annual burning restrictions will take effect shortly after snow melt occurs to help prevent wildfires.
“In Minnesota, 98 percent of wildfires are caused by humans, and burning debris is the number one cause,” said Linda Gormanson, DNR fire prevention supervisor. “Therefore, the DNR encourages using alternatives to debris burning such as composting and mulching whenever possible.”
Historically in Minnesota, the highest number of wildfires occurs in April and May. The DNR initiates burning restrictions to coincide with this annual “fire season,” which occurs just after annual snow melt. This year, snow melt could be as early as March in some areas.
According to the DNR, past spring fire restrictions have dramatically decreased the number and size of accidental fires.
Once spring fire restrictions are in place, permits to burn vegetative debris will not be issued until summer green-up occurs. Restrictions normally last from four to six weeks but are dependent on the weather.
Homeowners who choose to burn yard waste should do so under the safest conditions – that is when the ground is snow covered. Three inches or more of continuous snow cover drastically reduces the chance a fire will escape and burn unintended areas.
Even though the DNR may not require a burning permit when snow covers the ground, residents should check local requirements as many cities and municipalities may still require a permit.
Visit the DNR wildfire website www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html for current fire danger rating and burning permit restrictions.