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HomeOutdoorsYour ‘burning questions,’ answered

Your ‘burning questions,’ answered

REGION- Warmer weather has arrived in some parts of the state and is coming soon to the rest! While setting out the lawn chairs, you might notice your yard has accumulated some unwanted scenery: fallen leaves, twigs and branches from seasonal pruning, and the remnants of last year’s foray into gardening are majorly ruining the BBQ vibes.

While you’re dreaming of warm-season fun, keep in mind that as temperatures rise and the ground dries out, spring also paves the way for wildfire season. Most wildfires are started by humans, so be extra careful with how you plan to dispose of yard waste or other materials.

If you’re planning to open burn, let’s make sure all your questions are answered:

What is a burn permit and why do I need one?

The State of Michigan’s burn permit is required for burning any unwanted material, such as yard waste or paper products. It’s not a physical permit you apply for. Instead, you can check online to see if weather conditions allow for you to safely open burn.

Burning trash, plastic, Styrofoam or other hazardous materials is never permitted and can have serious effects on your health. A burn permit is required anytime snow is not covering the ground.

For the Upper Peninsula and the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, you can check online to see burn conditions for your county. For the southern Lower Peninsula, contact your local fire department or governing body for a burn permit.

Individuals can be held legally responsible for letting a fire escape, and additional city or township burn restrictions may be in effect. Always double check before lighting anything.

“Nine out of 10 wildfires in Michigan are caused by people, but following a few simple fire safety tips can reduce the risk for everyone,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist. “When you’re burning, always have a water source and shovel nearby to thoroughly extinguish the embers, and never leave your fire unattended.”

What other options do I have?

  • Burning your yard waste isn’t the only way to dispose of it. Here are some other ideas for getting your yard in shape:
  • Composting can retain soil nutrients for your yard, giving flowers, trees and other plants a boost.
  • Leave the leaves if you can – they are a fantastic habitat for native pollinators!
  • Chip up woody material for garden beds or pathways.

To learn more and see if conditions are safe for burning, visit Michigan.gov/BurnPermit.

For fire safety tips, visit Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires.

Questions? Contact DNR fire prevention specialist Paul Rogers at 616-260-8406.

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