The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds landowners to take care of vegetative debris such as dry branches now, as annual open burning restrictions will take effect shortly after snowmelt.

“This winter burning permits have been required in areas of the state that have not been fully covered with snow,” said DNR wildfire prevention supervisor Linda Gormanson. “Warmer temperatures in February could quickly melt the snow that remains.”

A burning permit is required if there is less than three inches of snow on the ground. The chance for a fire to escape and burn into unintended areas and endanger lives, homes and property is greatly reduced when adequate snow cover is present.

Check local counties and municipalities for burning regulations prior to burning. The DNR recommends composting leaves and twigs instead of burning to reduce air pollution and the chance of starting a wildfire.

Find out more on how to start composting yard waste on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Web site at www.pca. state.mn.us. After the snow melts, spring fire restrictions take effect and open burning will be restricted until vegetation turns green.

The highest number of wildfires are in April and May when vegetation is dry and people commonly do spring clean-up activities. Due to the high number of wildfires during this time, the DNR initiates open burning permit restrictions to coincide with spring fire season.

The DNR has seen a significant decrease in accidental fires when burning restrictions are in place. Depending on weather and green-up, restrictions may remain in effect for four to six weeks. Find more at www.mndnr.gov.