April 29, 2014
MADISON - Options such as recycling and composting can replace open burning of trash and yard debris, which Department of Natural Resource officials caution can be a fire and pollution danger, especially this time of year.
While it is legal to burn some yard waste in certain areas, forestry officials caution that debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin, triggering about 30 percent of the state's wildfires each year.
"Open burning of any material produces a variety of air pollutants," said Brad Wolbert, section chief with the DNR Waste and Materials Management Program. "Children and people with asthma are especially harmed by smoke from burning garbage. If you burn trash, you're affecting your health, your neighbors' health and the environment more than you know."
It's also illegal in the state to burn recyclable materials such as glass, plastic, metal containers and clean paper, as well as agricultural and horticultural plastics such as silage film, haylage bags, bale wrap, woven tarps and nursery pots and trays. If these materials cannot be recycled, officials recommend they go to a landfill or other legal disposal facility, not a burn barrel or pile.
"Every community has a recycling program for plastic, glass and metal containers and paper," Wolbert said. "And for yard debris, composting is the best option."
Composting and recycling are the preferred alternatives to burning - search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "open burning" to find more information. To learn more about ways to handle waste materials, search "waste" on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov. Information on recycling of agricultural pesticide containers is available at www.acrecycle.org (exit DNR).
If burning is the only option for yard waste, burning permits may be required to burn yard debris piles or for broadcast burning any time the ground is not completely snow-covered.
In DNR Protection Areas, permit holders are authorized to burn vegetative materials, such as leaves, brush and pine needles. Permits are designed so that people burn safely when and where the risk of wildfire is minimal.
Customers can obtain DNR burning permits online or by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. They may also visit their local ranger station or emergency fire warden to receive permits.
Once an individual has a burning permit, he or she must call or go online after 11 a.m. on the day of the planned burn to check daily fire restrictions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert, 608-264-6286