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Our Opinion: Wildfire season is here, so be careful

While we certainly can understand the draw of cleaning up outdoors, we hope people will use caution when doing so, especially when it comes to burning yard debris or other items.

Brainerd Dispatch editorial
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April showers are behind us. The sun is coming out, the temperatures are climbing.

Finally, it seems like spring is here.

We’re in store for the kind of mild weather that makes a person want to get started on their spring yard work.

While we certainly can understand the draw of cleaning up outdoors, we hope people will use caution when doing so, especially when it comes to burning yard debris or other items. Wildfire season is upon us, and though we had a lot of snow this past winter and a fair amount of rain so far this spring, it’s still quite dry across the state and grass fires are popping up regularly.

The good news is that so far we’re avoiding a repeat of last year’s drought conditions.

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“Minnesota is in a much better place this spring wildfire season than we were last year at this time, and that is because of the heavier snowpack that was received in northern Minnesota and that more gradual, progressive snowmelt that we’re seeing this year,” said Leanne Langeberg, public information officer with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, in a story in the Wednesday, May 4, Brainerd Dispatch. “ … Low level drought conditions still persist throughout the state, and we’re monitoring those transitions. It’s all dependent on the precipitation and those drying events that can happen, like we saw last summer.”

The bad news is the Climate Prediction Center released its three-month outlook for June, July and August, indicating another warm and dry summer.

Right now the fire danger in Aitkin, Morrison, Mille Lacs and Todd counties is low. In Cass, Crow Wing and Wadena counties, the fire danger is moderate, meaning fires start easily and spread at a moderate rate. Permits are required for burning in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing and Wadena counties, and burning is restricted to variance permits only in Morrison, Mille Lacs and Todd counties.

Before you burn anything, check with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on restrictions. A few things to keep in mind: campfires are allowed, but no bigger than 3 feet in diameter and height; and dry leaves, plant clippings, brush and clean untreated/unpainted wood can be burned as long as weather conditions do not pose a fire hazard.

For now, we’d recommend putting off yard work for a while and letting the spring green up continue unabated. We like the idea of following the spirit of No Mow May, a movement intended to protect pollinators which can also prevent damage to budding lawns by keeping people off them while they, too, emerge from winter dormancy.

It might be a good idea to consider waiting a bit before breaking out the rakes, lawnmowers and burn piles. But if you must, be careful and be vigilant, especially when it comes to burning. One ember can cause a whole lot of damage.

The Brainerd Dispatch Editorial Board members are Dispatch and Echo Journal Publisher Pete Mohs, former Dispatch Publisher Terry McCollough, Dispatch Editor Matt Erickson, Dispatch Managing Editor Renee Richardson and Echo Journal Editor Nancy Vogt.
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