Alternatives to yard waste fires reduce hazard in dry conditions

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Early snowmelt and warming temperatures have people looking at their yards and feeling the urge to tidy up.

“And the temptation traditionally around here has been to burn debris. And that’s our number one cause of wildfires in Wisconsin,” said Department of Natural Resources Forestry Specialist Amy Luebke.

Dry conditions and strong winds are not helping this year. The state has already experienced several fires.

“We’re starting to get into the heart of our fire season and we’re about three weeks to a month early,” said Forest Ranger Kent Glazer.

Luebke says the quickest fix is not always the best, especially if people do not follow rules and recommendations when burning.

She said alternative ways to dealing with brush and fallen branches may be a better way to go about it and have added benefits as well.

“There are things like creating habitat for wildlife, leaving brush and yard debris in place for nutrients, composting. So there are some other alternatives. One really great alternative we have is municipalities that may have a transfer site or a brush dropoff site,” she said.

Wausau’s Department of Public Works is set to open its lawn waste dropoff on April 2. But some municipalities offer year-round service, with reduced days and times in the winter.

If it is difficult for people to get their debris to these centers, they can also check and see if there is a pick-up service in their area. “Some municipalities have brush pick-up. That depends on where you are. It varies – larger places, larger cities tend to have brush pick-up, maybe once a month or twice a month,” Luebke said.

Luebke said if burning is inevitable, the best time of year to do it is in winter when there is still snow cover to prevent fires from spreading.

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