DNR Annual Burning Permits are Suspended

In order to protect the health and safety of our employees, partners and the public, we are taking proactive measures by suspending all DNR burning permits until further notice. All burning of debris in barrels, piles on the ground and grass or wooded areas with annual burning permits in DNR protection areas is prohibited.  DNR burn permits are not required if the ground is completely snow-covered. Campfires for warming and cooking are okay, though strongly discouraged.

WI DNR Burning Permits SuspendedSpring in Wisconsin has the highest fire risk and debris burning is the #1 cause. Eliminating ignition sources on the landscape reduces wildfire risk, smoke for vulnerable populations and person-to-person contact. Being on the front line, emergency responders and firefighters have an increased need to take pandemic precautions, so they remain available to continue to protect the public from wildfires and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


What does it mean for YOU when we say DNR burning permits are suspended?

By state statute, DNR fire restrictions only cover parts of the state. In others, local fire departments are responsible. When the DNR suspends burning permits, they are only suspended for the areas we cover.

If you plan to burn in a location outside of the DNR’s fire protection area, it is your responsibility to check with you local fire department to see if there are any restrictions. Many communities outside of DNR protection areas are also prohibiting the burning of debris at this time.
For the current fire danger and fire restrictions:

DNR Forest FIre Protection Map

Rake in the benefits by composting instead of burning leaves

Smokey in a pile of leaves asking you to compost instead of burning your leaves.That swish and crunch of autumn leaves underfoot is the sound of opportunity as home composting grows in popularity around the state. By composting and mulching fallen leaves, Wisconsin residents are improving the state’s air quality, reducing wildfires, and giving their communities an economic boost.

Wisconsin generates about 500,000 tons of compostable waste materials, like yard clippings, leaves, branches and food scraps, each year. As composting becomes easier and more popular, these materials are kept out of landfills and reused to make valuable garden products. Composting leaves also reduces burning in fall and less burning means healthier and more beautiful air all year long, and less chance of a spark starting a wildfire.

Using leaves for mulch and compost can save individuals money on fertilizer and save municipalities money on yard waste collection and relieves communities of the hazards of burning. Because of these economic and environmental benefits, the DNR continues to work with nonprofits, local governments and businesses to facilitate the growth and expansion of composting operations in Wisconsin. Continue reading “Rake in the benefits by composting instead of burning leaves”

Happy 75th Birthday Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear, Cheers to 75 Years of Preventing Wildfires

Smokey Bear celebrates his 75th birthday.“With a Ranger’s hat and shovel and a pair of dungarees, you will find him in the forest always sniffin’ at the breeze…” – If this jingle sounds familiar, then one might know we are talking about the living symbol of fire prevention and our beloved friend, Smokey Bear!

With the longest-running public service campaign in U.S. history under his belt, Smokey has taught millions of Americans about the role in preventing wildfires since 1944.  Seventy-five years later, Smokey celebrates a milestone birthday.

To support Wisconsin’s fire prevention efforts, Governor Tony Evers proclaimed August 9th, 2019 as ‘Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday’ through a signed Office of the Governor Proclamation to honor and observe this historic event, recognizing Smokey’s contribution to the education, health and safety for the past 75 years of Wisconsin’s citizens.

“As far as recognition goes, Smokey Bear ranks right up there behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse,” says Catherine Koele, Department of Natural Resource wildfire prevention specialist. “Many of us remember Smokey from our childhoods.  We’d see him in parades, on posters, in magazines or occasionally in TV commercials.  If we were lucky enough, maybe he’d stop by the classroom and teach us about fire safety.”

Take a peek at the History of Smokey Bear—a timeline of important events over the last 75 years!

Smokey gives back

Throughout Smokey’s 75th birthday year, Smokey himself will be giving back to local communities in Wisconsin by celebrating somebody else’s birthday.  The DNR is partnering with the non-profit organization Box of Balloons to support fire prevention and the mission to make a child’s birthday happy, celebrated and memorable.

Coordinated by eleven chapters across the state, Box of Balloons provides birthday boxes to children below poverty.  This year, Box of Balloons will be highlighting outdoor recreation and Smokey Bear themed birthday boxes for Pre-Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.  Each box and birthday celebration will include a surprise visit by Smokey Bear.  DNR forestry staff, acting as Smokey, will also provide fire prevention activities to educate and entertain the children attending each party.Celebrate Smokey Bear's 75th Birthday

This unique partnership will help both organizations expand into rural communities in hopes of getting Smokey’s image in front of children while also helping them feel special and celebrated on their birthdays. To learn more about the mission or support the efforts provided by Box of Balloons, visit

Celebrate with Smokey!
Swing by the Wisconsin State Fair August 1-11 and visit Smokey at Exploratory Park.  On August 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the DNR will host a special birthday party. Smokey will be making appearances at several of our state parks and forests in the coming weeks.  To find out where, visit the DNR’s event calendar at, keyword “get outdoors”  For more information on Smokey and his birthday, visit

Celebrate Smokey’s 75th birthday — take Smokey’s Pledge, share his message, consider alternatives to burning or encourage friends and family to be more careful with fire.  Doing your part will help ensure Wisconsin’s most treasured landscapes – and the people and wildlife who call them home – are safe from devastating, unplanned and unwanted fires.  Cheers to another 75 years, Smokey Bear!

Watch Smokey show off his dancing skills on the steps of the Capitol in a F.I.R.E video with Wisconsin firefighters as they sing happy birthday to the YMCA tune from the Village People.

Is my campfire really a campfire?

The first step in campfire safety is to understand the difference between a campfire and a fire to dispose of debris. Campfires, solely for warming or cooking purposes, are smaller in size and comprised of clean and dry wood, contained within a designated fire ring or surrounded by rocks. Campfires are allowed anytime, except when Emergency Burning Restrictions are in effect. Burning in a fire ring with the intent to eliminate debris is NOT a campfire and does require a burning permit in DNR protection areas.

No matter what type of outdoor fire you have, check the daily burning restrictions for your area before ignition and never leave a fire unattended. Remember, you may be held responsible for all suppression costs and potentially any damages associated.A campfire is no longer a campfire if the intent is to burn debris.

Fireworks can cause wildfires

Fireworks can cause wildfires.  Don's let your fun turn into flames.Forestry officials suggest caution with fireworks
By: Amy Luebke, DNR

Each year the use of both legal and illegal fireworks causes wildfires in Wisconsin.  Anyone using legal fireworks should do so only in a clear area away from buildings, vehicles and shrubbery and should have water or a fire extinguisher handy.  Remember that wildfires can occur anytime the ground is not snow covered.  Make sure you are aware of your local weather conditions and plan accordingly.  Fireworks can cause wildfires.  Don’t let your fun turn into flames!

Wildfire Report 5-16-19

Torching pine during a wildfire.

Lower moisture levels in pines increase the possibility for torching pines.

A total of 51 wildfires burned in DNR Protection Areas over the past week, burning 86 acres. The majority of the fires were caused by debris burning, with several railroad and powerline fires. Four structures were threatened and all four were saved. One significant wildfire occurred in the Woodruff Area and burned approximately 40 acres before containment. Widespread rain is expected across the state into the weekend.

As starch and carbohydrate levels build up in our red and jack pine species, their moisture levels will drop significantly. Over the next week, we will be at the low point of this moisture level, and the possibility is highest for torching pines and surface fires transitioning to crown fire activity. There is also still plenty of dead grass and fallen leaves on the land that makes it easy for a wildfire to start and spread. Stay apprised of fire weather conditions by checking the DNR fire danger webpage each day after 11 a.m.:, keyword “‘fire”.

Firewise Tip: Make sure your burn sites are completely out and not retaining heat before leaving the area!

Wildfire Alert

Fire danger is at High to Very High today, May 15 in several areas.  The WI DNR is suspending burning permits for debris piles and broadcast burns in many counties due to forecasted winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.  Please use caution outdoors with anything that could cause a spark including chainsaws, dragging trailer chains, and even hot exhaust systems from off-road vehicles.  For the current fire restrictions, visit

May 2, 2019 Wildfire Report

Wildfire Report for May 2, 2019

Widespread precipitation has kept wildfire activity low lately. In the past week, 63 wildfires burned 54 acres in DNR protection areas (approximately half the state); 35 homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance and 3 buildings were destroyed.  Debris burning was the most common cause (30 fires); equipment was the second most common cause (17 fires). Other minor causes included power line, campfires, and ash disposal. As the vegetation dries out on the days we don’t receive rain, expect fire danger to increase, particularly in areas where standing dead grass and other dry vegetation remains.

If you choose to conduct outdoor burning, remember that a free annual burning permit is required to burn small piles of debris and to burn in a burn barrel in DNR protection areas. Burning permits are frequently suspended this time of year when fire danger increases. You must check the day’s burning restrictions every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online at, keyword ‘fire danger’.  Larger piles and daytime burning requires a special permit from a DNR Ranger. Piling your debris in a campfire pit does not make it okay to burn during the day.  If your property is outside a DNR protection area, check with local officials for burning restrictions.

Leaf and needle debris under decks can ignite and start the deck and house on fire.

Remove leaves and needles from your roof, around your foundation and under your deck to prevent ignition by a flying ember.

Firewise Tip: Homeowners are encouraged to make weekly checks around your home or cabin for windblown leaves and needles on your roof, around your foundation, and under decks and elevated porches; keep these areas clean. The debris that collects in these places could be easily ignited by flying embers produced during a wildfire.

Increased fire danger on April 26th

Increased fire danger

Expect to see strong, gusty winds today (Friday, April 26) ahead of a storm front as fire danger ranges from High to Very High statewide. There are burning permit suspensions in 27 counties. Check burning permit restrictions at, keyword “fire.” Sparks from campfires, hot equipment, woodstove ashes also a concern today, until the rain or snow arrives and winds are calm.  Fire crews will be on high alert and shifting ground resources in areas of elevated risk.   In addition, three contract single-engine air tankers are on stand-by for quick initial attack, stationed in Necedah and Siren. Report fires early by dialing 911.  Check fire restrictions here.

Prevent a wildfire

Wildfire Prevention Week

Embers can remain hot for days and start a wildfire.

Never leave your fire unattended and make sure it’s completely out before you leave.

It’s Wildfire Prevention Week!
One way you can help us celebrate, is to get a free DNR burn permit before burning.  It takes less than two minutes and we can email you the burn permit right away.  Or, call our hotline 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) and customer service can issue you one over the phone. Then, on the day of the burn, call or check online for the fire danger and burn restrictions in your county after 11 am.  Never leave your fire unattended and make sure it’s completely out before you leave. Got questions or not in an area where the DNR regulates?  Local fire officials are always willing to help.  Following these simple steps can greatly decrease your chances of starting a wildfire.  Visit this page to get your free DNR burn permit.