Grayback Forestry crews burned piles last week visible from Canyon City.

When planning landscaping projects and hazardous fuel removal, consider chipping or recycling the material rather than burning. Many areas have free yard debris recycling events during the spring, which reduces the risk of escaped debris burns or re-ignition of burn piles, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. Grant County has free yard debris disposal at local transfer stations.

When burning yard debris, early spring is the perfect time to get these projects going, before vegetation begins to dry out. Rob Pentzer, acting district forester for Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District, encourages landowners who are planning to burn debris to “do it safely.”

”Our recent rains provide a real opportunity for landowners to complete projects, but as we often see conditions can change quickly and waiting a week may significantly increase the risk of escaped fire,” he said.

Before burning yard debris, check local smoke and burning restrictions through local fire departments, Oregon Department of Forestry and any county restrictions.

Also follow these tips to reduce the risk of an escaped debris burn: call the local burn line; check the weather forecast and avoid burning on windy days or when wind is in the forecast; clear the area around a burn pile to mineral soil before burning; keep burn piles small; have water and tools on site; never leave a burn pile unattended and revisit old burn piles regularly, as they can re-ignite — even several weeks later; fully extinguish the burn pile by drowning with water and stirring until the fire is out; and burn only yard debris, never prohibited materials such as tires, plastic, asbestos or oil.

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