WI DNR Urging Winter Burning

By KBJR News 1

January 9, 2012 Updated Jan 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM CDT

Minong, WI (Northlands NewsCenter) -- The DNR is urging people who own property in, or near, blow-down areas of Northwestern Wisconsin, to reduce their debris piles now rather than waiting until the end of winter. The snow allows a safety blanket.

"Our concern now is preparing it and getting ready for the spring fire season which occurs around April May when we lose our snow, things are dry and brown and it hasn't greened up yet. So what we're trying to do is encourage people if they have brush piles, they want to do yard cleanup, they want to do it now while we have snow cover."

Rebecca Mouw, the Minong Forest Ranger says nice weather now, makes it easier for residents but the snow needs to be present, which could be hard with temperatures rising in future days.

"We have just a little bit of snow left and today it's warm and tomorrow is supposed to be up to 44 so if you light your pile you must make sure that the snow will stay for the duration that your pile is burnt."

The piles of debris pose as the largest fire hazard ever seen in the region. With minuscule amounts of precipitation, area foresters are supporting burns now to prevent a scary situation in the spring.

"Typically we have a lot of snow, we can relax a little bit, but with the weather the way that it is now it makes us wonder what's down the road, what's going to happen in February and March, how early will fire season start and how intense will it be. It's been very dry November; December precipitation is quite a bit below normal."

However, while encouraging landowners to burn now, they're also warning people to be careful to make sure the ash from the burned debris is completely extinguished.

Another reason burning is encouraged now is because the Wisconsin DNR anticipates burning will be prohibited in the storm damaged areas of northwest Wisconsin by early spring.

Jordan Weinand