The weather this winter has no doubt been a little warmer than expected. Many might not complain about this. Others still long for the snow that has been absent.
The warm weather has not only affected the scheduling of events or natural processes but has forced the implementation of spring burning restrictions. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources started to enforce burning restrictions March 26 for much of the state including the central region.
This means state officials will not issue burning permits for burning brush or yard waste. No permit means no burning. Restrictions are usually in place between four to six weeks – time estimated for sufficient green vegetative growth, according to the DNR.
While piles of brush and yard waste could be piling up in the meantime, it all comes down to one word: safety.
Annually, more than 1,2000 wildfires occur in Minnesota, most between the months of April and May, according to the DNR.
Guess what the leading cause of wildfires is.
Information from the DNR’s Division of Forestry states 99 percent of the wildfires that take place statewide are caused by errors people have made.
We must be careful. Heed burning restrictions and be mindful of weather conditions.
The Minnesota DNR can be a valuable resource for residents who have questions about the dos and dont’s of burning, fire prevention and safety. Local fire departments and the American Red Cross are also available to offer assistance before danger has heightened and damage is done.
The following counties were included in the initial announcement of burning restrictions this spring: Stearns (that’s us St. Joseph!), Benton, Sherburne, Wright and Todd.
Campfires are still allowed. As always campers are advised to watch their fire continuously and make sure it is out and cold to the touch before leaving the area.
While this is just the initial round of restrictions, more areas could be added as the season continues to take shape. The good news about the arrival and enforcement of the spring burning restrictions is they yield results when followed. DNR Fire Prevention Coordinator Larry Himanga said in a news release that spring restrictions have dramatically decreased the number and sizes of accidental fires.
Let’s keep the decrease going. Be careful.
For more information about wildfires, the risk in your area and prevention tips, visit the DNR’s website www.dnr.state.mn.us or the American Red Cross’s website at: www.redcross.org.
Author: TaLeiza Calloway
TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.