Open burning in the county starts Friday

The spring open burning season begins this Friday in Mesa County, as the region comes off of one of the worst winters in recent memory in terms of the number and strength of inversions.

All residential and commercial open burning in the county requires a permit from either a local fire department or the Mesa County Health Department. The permit requirements extend to anyone living in the Grand Valley Airshed, which is defined as all areas located at an elevation below 6,000 feet.

So, what can you burn? Allowed materials include agricultural debris, dry weeds, garden debris, and tree or shrub trimmings less than one inch in diameter, according to the county. Residential bonfires are allowed with a permit, but only ones that burn untreated, clean wood for fuel.

What can’t you burn? Household trash, for starters. Also prohibited from open burns are leaves, grass trimmings, limbs greater than one inch in diameter, construction waste, rubber or plastics.

With air quality so fragile this winter season, Health Department officials hope residents will look at alternatives to open burning this spring, specifically encouraging folks to use the Mesa County Organic Materials Composting Facility at the landfill on Orchard Mesa.

The facility accepts for free organic materials like grass clippings, tree limbs, untreated and unpainted lumber, hay and straw. That gets turned into compost the county turns around and sells to area farmers and gardeners. The composting facility is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Other alternatives to burning include taking advantage of free days at the landfill (one is planned for April 13) and taking part in the city of Grand Junction’s Spring Clean-up program, set for later this year.

Mike Page, spokesman for the Grand Junction Fire Department, also encouraged residents to employ one of the alternatives to open burning, saying his group “frequently” responds to fires that end up burning out of control. He also said that as the valley has attracted more and more people — including more older and at-risk people sensitive to increases in air pollution — the department is seeing a rise in the number of emergency medical responses due to smoke from open burning.

Residents in the following areas who plan on burning should contact their local fire departments to get a permit: Fruita/Loma (Lower Valley), Grand Junction, Clifton, Palisade and De Beque.

Residents who live on Orchard Mesa or in the Whitewater area should contact the Health Department directly at 248-6966 to get a permit.

Spring open burning season stretches from March 1 through May 31.


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