About a week ago, Cal Fire (California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection) lifted the seasonal restrictions on burning and burn hours. This occurs every year around this time as long as there have been some decent rainfall and the weather/temperatures have cooled down. This means that area residents can now, until further notice, burn clean, dry vegetation at any hour of the day as long as it is a permissible burn day as per the California Air Resources Board. But, doing debris burning does come with a few requirements and a basic understanding of just what you are actually doing. To start out, you will need to get a burn permit from your local fire agency, and, before starting any fire, you will need to call the local Air Resources District to see if it is a permissible burn day. You are not allowed to burn in a burn barrel, nor are you allowed to burn garbage, wet or green vegetation, or building materials/scraps. Your burn pile is restricted to 4 feet by 4 feet. You are required to keep close watch on the fire after starting it, and if it escapes, you can be held liable for damage and suppression costs. You should have a shovel and water hose close by to help keep the fire in check and stop it from escaping. Clearing all burnable material a few feet out and around from the burn pile is just common sense as well as avoiding burning on windy days. If the smoke from your fire is adversely affecting your neighbors, you are required to put your fire out. There really are much better alternatives to debris burning that extend far beyond the obvious of keeping smoke (carbon and CO2) out of the air. If you chipped and/or composted the material you would end up with some wonderful material to spread around your plants and trees in the garden. They’ll love it, as it is a nutrient source for them and the ‘critters’ in the soil. This will also act to keep the soil from compacting and will allow better water/moisture retention. There is no need to waste money on fertilizer or plant food, much of which is chemicals anyway that are not all that great in the environment if they get washed away by heavy rains and/or watering. So, if mulching and composting isn’t something you’ve done up until now, seriously consider trying it rather than burning. Your yard and the environment will love you for it! Give me a call if you want some tips on how to get started.

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