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Paynesville Press - April 9, 2003

DNR restricts burning in Stearns

Burning restrictions took effect in Stearns County at the start of April. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) implemented the burning restrictions over much of central and northern Minnesota in an effort to reduce the number of wildfires caused by burning vegetative debris and to reduce personal property damage.

Snowfall throughout Minnesota was well below average this winter, and many areas experienced fires into January. As conditions dry, fire agencies are expecting an increase in fire activity. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May, according to Olin Phillips, fire protection manager for the DNR.

Data indicates that most spring wildfires originate from the burning of yard debris, Phillips noted. "The DNR is asking residents to use alternative methods of debris disposal, such as recycling, composting, or chipping," said Phillips. For necessary burning, a permit is required. Residents can apply for variances for proscribed projects - including approved ag practices - at DNR forestry division offices.

No burning permits will be issued for piled vegetative debris. First restrictions are in effect in in 38 counties, including Stearns. Data has shown a 35 to 40 percent decrease in wildfires since spring burning restrictions were imposed starting five years ago.

The fire restrictions will be lifted when vegetation greens up and safe burning conditions prevail.

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