Ways to reduce pollution from backyard burning

With spring and summer cleaning underway, the Department of Environmental Conservation wants to remind and encourage Vermonters to follow a few guidelines for on-premise or backyard open burning.

Burning materials from spring cleanup can release harmful pollution that can impact neighboring properties. By following these guidelines, Vermonters can help reduce air pollution, avoid nuisance impacts and protect human and environmental health.

The on-premise or backyard burning of brush, deadwood or tree cuttings collected from normal property maintenance is allowed under the Vermont Air Pollution Control Regulations, as long as no public or private nuisance, such as excessive smoke, is created. These guidelines can help Vermonters avoid creating nuisance impacts during on-premise or backyard burning:

  • Allow green materials to dry prior to burning
  • Consider the wind speed and direction before beginning the burn
  • Postpone burning if atmospheric conditions are not favorable to disperse the smoke (see Using Air Quality Forecasts webpage.)
  • Ensure that the fire burns hot
  • Obtain a local burn permit from the town fire warden (see the Fire Warden Directory to find their contact information)

“Our best suggestion is to avoid burning altogether and let the materials decompose naturally,” said John Wakefield, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s compliance section chief for the air quality and climate division. Additional tips on what to do with excess leaves, grass and wood — such as composting and brush piles — can be found on the Waste Management and Prevention Division webpage.

For more information on open burning in Vermont, go to the Air Quality and Climate Division’s webpage on backyard burning.

(The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for protecting Vermont’s natural resources and safeguarding human health for the benefit of this and future generations. Visit dec.vermont.gov and follow the Department of Environmental Conservation on Facebook and Instagram.)