The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced restrictions on “rule burns” on DNR-protected lands in Thurston, Mason, and Pacific Counties. The restrictions are due to current fuel conditions and forecasted weather conditions that could exacerbate fire danger. A DNR Rule Burn is described as “a fire that does not require a DNR-issued written permit has established size limitations based on time of year and the county within which the burning occurs.”
As a result of the DNR actions, ORCAA asks residents to voluntarily limit the amount of outdoor burning they do on their own properties during this high-pressure weather system. DNR’s warning this week notes, “Early spring, before plants fully green up, is a deceptively risky time for wildfires. Dead grass and last year’s leaf litter can dry out rapidly, providing the fuel that can allow fast-spreading brush fires to strike unexpectedly. According to the National Weather Service, this week is expected to bring warmer and dryer temperatures that could climb well into the 70ºs.” See more details from DNR here.
From an air quality perspective, because most of the brush and yard trimmings currently accumulating are green and wet, burning now would create heavy, dense smoke. What’s more, in many areas, yard-waste burning is not allowed under state law. To see where burning is allowed, and what permits may be required, check HERE.
Where burning is legal, ORCAA suggests letting piles “cure” for 6-9 months to ensure fast, clean, burning. A better option would be to compost the material and use the resultant organic soil as a garden additive or covering-mulch to improve the health of your plantings while reducing both fire risks and air pollution.