Not all fires are illegal, but burning trash and solid waste is. Below you will find resources to know the difference and find environmentally-friendly alternatives to disposing waste.
Having a recreational fire or looking to burn vegetation on your property for disposal? A burning permit is required in all Scott County cities. Browse the tabs below to find information about obtaining a burn permit in your Scott County city and other safe disposal tips.
Burning garbage is illegal and unsafe. For information on local garbage and recycling service providers, search the Waste Navigator or browse our Problem Materials Disposal List (PDF).
Find city fire contacts and applications:
- Belle Plaine
- Elko New Market
- Jordan (See Miscellaneous Applications section)
- New Prague
- Prior Lake
For other areas, check the MN DNR's Burning Permit Information Site.
Not all Fires are Illegal.
Although burning any garbage or Solid Waste is illegal in Scott County, the Solid Waste Ordinance allows County residents to burn vegetative material for disposal on the property it was generated on by obtaining an open burn permit.
If you do need to burn vegetative material, open burning permits are available by contacting your local city or fire chief in Scott County. See the Burn Permit Information by City tab for contact information and convenient links to downloadable forms from your city.
Burning Tree Debris
Although disposing of tree debris and vegetative material by burning on your property is allowed, Scott County recommends taking material to one of the many free and inexpensive tree and yard waste recycling sites throughout the county.
Scott County also allows residents to burn vegetative material for disposal in recreational fires. A recreational fire can be no bigger than 3 feet by 3 feet and can only consist of clean wood or vegetation. Some municipalities may require a permit and could restrict what you can burn as many cities do not allow residents to burn leaves. Check the Burn Permit Information by City tab.
Burning garbage is against the law because it harms our air, land, water, and everyone that lives here. Today's trash has plastics, metals, dyes, and chemicals that, when burned, release toxins into our air, settle on our land and in our water. Burning garbage - including cardboard boxes, construction debris, furniture, mattresses, hazardous waste and treated/painted wood - is illegal. Violators can face fines up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.
If you suspect illegal burning, call Scott County Environmental Services at 952-496-8177 or Scott County Dispatch at 952-445-1411. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to report. Your reports can be anonymous.
What you should do instead of burning your garbage?
- Use a trash removal service, find local companies at https://gis.co.scott.mn.us/wastenav/
- Haul your trash to a landfill or transfer station
- Choose items with less packaging, less packaging = less trash.
- Recycle trash and vegetation whenever possible
- Take bulky items like furniture and mattresses to local drop-sites.
- Bring Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) to the Scott County HHW Facility.
Additional Resources on Burning, Recreational Fires, and Recycling
The DNR or local authority may be more restrictive and prohibit burning during spring burning restrictions, burning bans, or during air quality alerts to help prevent wildfires or air pollution. For current air quality information, check the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Current Air Quality Conditions Tool.
Who regulates open burning within Scott County?
Local fire chiefs in their respective fire districts regulate open burning in Scott County with the use of burning permits. The MN Department of Natural Resources also has regulations regarding open burning and requiring permits. Scott County has passed an ordinance that incorporates local and state standards. Local municipalities may be more restrictive.
How do I obtain an open burning permit?
Contact your local city or fire chief, or check your city's website. Additional information can be found online by visiting the DNR's website or by contacting a local Fire Warden. Fire Wardens may only issue permits to residents within their jurisdiction.
May I burn my garbage?
No. Solid waste generated from homes, businesses, or farms may not be burned.
What material can I burn?
The only materials that can be burned are tree debris and other vegetation. *Check with your local burning permit authority if you can burn leaves as some cities in Scott County prohibit the burning of leaves.
When is an open burning permit needed?
Open burning permits are required year-round in Scott County, regardless of snow cover, for all fires except recreational fires under three feet in height and three feet in diameter (certain municipalities may require a permit for recreational fires).
Can I bring wood and vegetation back to my property from a landscape job and burn it?
No, no person shall conduct, cause or permit the open burning of any material that was not generated at the site of the open burn.
Can I bring firewood to my property to burn for a recreational fire?
It is acceptable to use material not generated on site for recreational fires, if all rules pertaining to transporting tree debris are followed (i.e.; emerald ash borer). Review MN Dept. of Agriculture Firewood Information.
Can I have the Fire department conduct a structure training burn?
Permits for all structure fires must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Natural Resources. You must also obtain a demolition permit from the City if the structure is in City limits or the County if the structure is in rural Scott County.
I want to burn off my pasture or CRP grass, can I conduct a Conservation Burn?
Permits for running fires over one (1) acre must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Natural Resources by contacting Jim Edgar at Jim.Edgar@state.mn.us or 507-765-2740. The Burning permit is then issued by the local fire department.
May I burn another person’s waste?
No. Permits may only be issued for materials generated at the property on which the open burn is located. You may not haul waste from another property and burn it on your property.
Can I burn clean lumber?
The Scott County Solid Waste Ordinance only allows the burning of clean dimensional lumber for recreation or home heating as allowed by the MN DNR. Review the DNR's Firewood Information site.
Can I burn pallets?
You may not burn pallets, plywood or engineered lumber, wood with nails, hardware, stain, or paint, or any garbage in a recreational fire or burn pile.
Can I burn green treated lumber or rail-road ties?
No, these wood products contain chemicals that when burned release toxins to the environment.
Can I have a burn barrel?
No, Scott County prohibits the use of burn barrels for the disposal of solid waste.
I live in Rural Scott County; can I burn and bury an old barn?
No, the Scott County Board has passed a resolution formally banning the burning of all garbage at the local level and the Scott County Solid Waste Ordinance prohibits the burning or burying of all Solid waste, including farm buildings.
Can I start a tree pile with used motor oil?
No, you may only use a clean burning device to start a fire.
I am burning a tree pile; can I burn furniture or pallets on top?
No, only clean trees or vegetation can be burned.
Can I burn Cardboard, paper, or Sensitive Documents?
No. However, many local businesses and drop sites in Scott County accept cardboard free of charge for recycling and many businesses offer document shredding for a small fee. Visit the Scott County Waste Navigator for locations.
If I can’t burn my garbage, can I dump it in my woods or in a ditch?
No, dumping garbage is also illegal.