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Last chance to complete winter clean-up; know your burning laws

As the spring thaw approaches, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds residents of open burning restrictions.

"When there is more than three inches of continuous snow cover, permits are not needed for open burning," said Ron Stoffel, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildfire suppression supervisor. "If the snow cover is less than three inches, residents must apply for permits from the local fire warden or online. Only grass and brush may be burned."

This year for the first time, people in many counties will be able to conveniently purchase burning permits on the DNR Web site at

During the spring, burning restrictions are put in place to reduce the chance of wildfires, since snow cover drastically reduces the chance of fire igniting unintended areas. The majority of wildfires in Minnesota result from individual burns that escape and burn into the surrounding area.

If residents wait too long to burn, they may be told they cannot get a permit to burn their piled material until "greenup" in the spring or early summer.

Even with the recent snowfall, fire officials caution people to pay attention to where they are burning. Parts of northern Minnesota are behind in soil moisture and this deficit may allow organic (peat) soils to ignite during burning operations. Peat fires are difficult to extinguish once they are started and may burn underground, even under the snow.