The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages homeowners to complete necessary open burning now, as restrictions will take effect shortly after snowmelt occurs. 

“Warm temperatures will continue to erode the snowpack in the next few weeks,” said Larry Himanga, DNR fire prevention coordinator. “This will expose last year’s leaves and other yard waste. The safest way to dispose of this vegetation is to recycle or compost it.”

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Homeowners who choose to burn should do so under the safest conditions, when snow is still on the ground. A DNR burning permit is not required when there are at least 3 inches of continuous snow cover. The cover drastically reduces the chance a fire will escape and burn unintended areas. Check local city and municipal regulations; many are more stringent.

Spring fire restrictions will soon take effect and will severely limit open burning until summer green up occurs. Traditionally, most wildfires occur in April and May. More than 95 percent of these fires are caused by human error. Due to the high fire incidence during this period, the DNR initiates burning restrictions to coincide with this annual “fire season.”

The restrictions are weather dependent, but normally last from four to six weeks until there is sufficient green vegetative growth. Historically, spring fire restrictions dramatically decrease the number and size of accidental fires.

By burning prior to snowmelt, homeowners can reduce the potential for an escaped fire, which could endanger homes and property. And, if the DNR or a fire department has to respond to an escaped fire, the homeowner is responsible for the cost.