Burning garbage is illegal.
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 against the law. 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 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your call can be anonymous.
Options to Burning Garbage
We are fortunate in Scott County today that garbage and recycling service is available to every residence at their property, including rural residents and farmers, and has been for 30 years. Also, there are also many local options for residents to bring problem materials like Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), TVs and furniture to for disposal. For information on local garbage and recycling service providers please search the Waste Navigator or you can also visit our problem materials disposal list.
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.
How to get a Permit to Burn Vegetation
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 map Below
Scott County Fire Districts- contact your local City or Fire Chief for burn permits
|Contact Person||Email Address||Phone #|
|Belle Plaine||City of Belle Plaine||952-873-5553|
|Elko-New Market||Elko New Market Fire Dept||612-290-0430|
|Jordan||City of Jordan||City of Jordan||952-492-2535|
|New Prague||New Prague Fire Dept||952-367-6058|
|Prior Lake||Lori Folie||Prior Lake City||952-447-9800|
|Savage||Fire Chief Andrew Slama||Savage Fire Dept||952-882-2649|
Options to 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.
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 please visit https://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/current-air-quality
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 City’s do not allow residents to burn leaves.
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!
Additional Resources on Burning, Recreational Fires, and Recycling
(Click on links below for more information)
Frequently Asked Questions
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. 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). https://www.mda.state.mn.us/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 found here https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/firewood/index.html
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. For more information please visit: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/waste/laws-prohibiting-backyard-burning-garbage
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, 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. Please visit the Scott County Waste Navigator for locations https://gis.co.scott.mn.us/wastenav/
If I can’t burn my garbage can I dump it in my woods or in a ditch?
No, dumping garbage is also illegal