Opening Burning in Grand County

 Q: What is slash pile/open burning?

A: Slash pile burning is an effective and efficient method for private landowners to dispose of wood, yard debris/waste or vegetative materials. Generally, any time you light a fire outdoors, you are open burning. There are also many alternatives to pile burning such as reusing, recycling, or composting.

Q: Who regulates open burning in Grand County?

A: The Grand County Department of Natural Resources (GCDNR), under a Delegation of Authority from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, has operated the Grand County Open Burning Program since 2001. You can visit their webpage for information:

Q: When is open burning season in Grand County?

A: The burn season opens after 3-6” of season-long snow has accumulated, usually sometime in November, and is open through March, provided there is still sufficient snow on the ground. Once the season opens, burning is available seven (7) days/week, as long as conditions are favorable. Days with moderate winds or heavy snowfall are best as they provide good smoke dispersal. GCDNR personnel determine on a daily basis if burning will be allowed, based on a forecast delivered by the National Weather Service.

Q: Do I need a permit for open burning?

A: YES and NO!

YES, if you are burning piles GREATER than three (3) feet in diameter and two (2) feet in height. Burn permits are available from the GCDNR beginning in mid-October: online at and in their office at 469 East Topaz in Granby. Office hours are Monday through Friday 7am to 3:30pm, however, the permits are in a box outside the office. You may email, mail, fax or drop off your completed application any time.

NO, you do not need a permit if you are burning a cooking or “recreational” fire (or wood, yard debris/waste, etc.) that is less than three (3) feet in diameter and two (2) feet in height. You do not need a permit for an agricultural burn either, which is “the burning of cover vegetation for the purpose of preparing the soil for crop production, weed control, or maintenance of water conveyance structures related to agricultural operations.” Open burning of household trash, wood or yard debris on agricultural land is NOT agricultural burning and DOES require a permit!

 Q: How much does a burn permit cost?

A: A burn permit is free as long as your piles are smaller than 15’x15’x15’. If your piles are larger than fifteen feet, the permit will cost $50.00 for the season.

 Q: What happens after I submit my completed application?

A: After receiving your application, GCDNR personnel will inspect your piles and notify you. If approved, you must call 970-887-0745 on the days you wish to burn to see if it is a permissible burn day in your area. Once you have a burn season permit, you can burn your piles any time during that season, but you still must call each day you plan to burn. Remember, there should be SNOW on the GROUND where you are burning.

Q: What types of open burning are permissible with a permit?

A: Yard debris/waste or slash piles that do not include salvageable wood or tree stumps are permissible to burn, but only if your Homeowners’ Association allows open burning within its regulations.  The same holds true for those who live within the Town limits of Grand Lake, Granby, Fraser, Winter Park, Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling.  Please check with your town hall to determine if burning is allowed.

Q: Does slash pile size matter when open burning?

A: Of course it does! GCDNR recommends piles not to exceed 15’x15’x15’ as this size pile is easily consumed within a 12-hour period. Preferred dimensions for good consumption and smoke management are a height that is at least equal to the width of the pile. These measures prevent snow and moisture from filtering down into the piles and extinguishing the fire before it gets going. GCDNR recommends that piles be up to ten feet in diameter and at least eight feet high. Creating piles this size will allow more opportunity to burn during the season as they will be consumed in the 6-hour burn windows that are typical for our area. Larger piles are allowed, but require longer burn windows to be consumed, thereby reducing your opportunity to burn.

Q: What types of open burning are prohibited?

A: Material that contains food wastes, plastic, coated or treated wood products, rubber, insulation, tires, car bodies, insulated wire, motor oil, aerosol cans, hazardous or toxic materials, or other materials that will produce substantial amounts of smoke and particulates are prohibited. Also, the burning of wood residue, which includes bark, sawdust, slabs, chips, shavings, mill trim, and other wood products derived from wood processing is not permissible. It is unacceptable to burn construction debris (including both clean and treated wood), or buildings/structures for demolition purposes.

Q: Why can’t I burn in a burn barrel?

A: Because it is against the law! Burn barrels are defined as incinerators using the definition given in the Air Quality Control Commission’s Common Provisions Regulation. Burn barrels do not combust efficiently, resulting in limited oxygen and lower temperatures that create smoke, odors and a variety of toxic pollutants like dioxins. Dioxins are known carcinogens and can increase the risk of both short-term and long-term health problems. Burn barrels not only impact your own health, but the health of your neighbors and the environment. The smoke produced by burn barrels also creates a nuisance.

Q: Why is open burning regulated anyway? Why do I have to get a permit?

A: Open burning pollutes the air and poses a fire hazard, so the State and the County must regulate it to help protect public health and the environment in our beautiful state. The air pollution created can cause serious health problems, obscure visibility, soil nearby surfaces, and create annoying odors. Burning wood and vegetative products also produces an array of harmful chemicals. Carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, dioxin and hundreds of additional chemicals are released when wood and other products are burned. Burning plastics, tires, chemically treated wood products and other synthetic materials also produces this type of air pollution and releases other toxic chemicals into the air. The air pollutants produced by burning wood and vegetative material can irritate the eyes, nose and lungs and pose a threat to those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Q: What if I suspect that my neighbor is burning illegally?

A: Please call the Grand County dispatch non-emergency number at 970-725-3311 to report smoke or an illegal open burn. You can access the Daily Burn List on the GCDNR webpage that lists all of the approved and permitted open burners in the County, as well as information on whether or not it is a “burn day”. Remember, burn season is open from November to March, and is open seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. We wish you safe and happy burning this winter!


>Slash Pile Burning Guidelines
>Grand County Open Burning Management Plan