By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will place burning restrictions on 13 additional counties beginning 8 a.m. Monday morning.
The counties include Aitkin, Benton, Crow Wing, Douglas, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and southern Cass, south of Highway 200.
With the snow mostly gone, exposing dry grass and brush, the potential for wild fires has increased.
“This restriction is not the same as a ban,” said Jason Kern, resource protection program forester with the DNR Forestry Division in Little Falls. “Permits may be issued with variances such as economic hardship. A ban is more severe and may go as far as restricting campfires, fireworks, welding and outside smoking of cigarettes.”
Kern said he reviews approximately 250 plans for variances annually and will issue permits to burn with perimeters.
A spring burning restriction has been in place for many years. It usually lasts from four to six weeks, beginning about two weeks after open areas are snow-free.
“It started earlier this year due to the compression of Minnesota’s spring season,” said Kern. “In the spring, wildland fuels have more tendency to burn until they green up and are able to limit the spread of fire. Even with spring rain, the restrictions won’t be lifted. Within one day, materials can dry out and again be susceptible to fire.
Campfires, measuring three feet in diameter and three feet in height are still OK.
Monitoring the campfire is required until the coals have cooled.
“Make sure the fire is out cold before leaving the area,” said Kern. “If you cannot stick your hand in the ashes without burning it, the fire is not out cold.”
If not sure about burning during the restriction period, call (320) 616-2450, ext. 626, for more information.