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Air Quality Program

Frequently Asked QuestionsA photograph of mountainous country in Washington.

1.  Do I need a permit?

That depends on what type of burning you are doing.

If you are burning for agricultural purposes, you will need a permit to burn any open field, harvest debris, or orchard trees being taken out of production.

Land clearing burning also requires a burning permit. Land clearing burning means outdoor burning of trees, stumps, shrubbery, or other natural vegetation from projects that clear the land surface so it can be developed, used for a non-agricultural purpose, or left unused.

Other types of burning, such as fire training or habitat enhancement, may require a special permit. For questions on permit requirements in Chelan, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan and Douglas counties contact the Department of Ecology's Central Regional Office at (509) 454-7899.

For Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Walla Walla and Whitman counties contact the Department of Ecology's Eastern Regional Office at (509) 329-3400. 

For all other counties select here.

2. When can I burn?

If you are burning for agricultural purposes, and have an agricultural burn permit (orchard tear out or field), you must burn on a designated burn day.  You must call 1-800-406-5322 prior to burning. If the message for your area states that it is a no-burn day, you may not legally burn.  You must have an "OK" from Ecology and your fire safety authority.  If the message says it is a burn day, you must still comply with your local fire protection agency's decision if it determines it is a no-burn day.  Compliance with burn bans put into effect by another department/county/city is a specific condition of the permit.  The grower and local fire department are responsible for fire safety.

3.  Can I burn my yard waste?

Do you live in an Urban Growth Area (UGA)?

Residential and land clearing burning is not allowed in UGAs in cities with a population of 10,000 or more. The only outdoor burning allowed in UGAs is for the disposal of tumble weeds blown by the wind, and recreational fires. Fires used for debris disposal are not considered recreational fires. Agricultural burning can be allowed in UGAs. To find out if out if you live in a UGA, please contact your local planning department before burning. Local permits or restrictions might apply where you live. Please contact your city or county before burning.

Select here for maps of UGAs.

If you are nonagricultural, you can burn if you are outside an urban growth area. The pile may be no bigger than 4'x4'x3'.

Always contact your local fire department.

4.  How do I get publications?

You can download them off the internet or contact The Department of Ecology.   Select this to go to Ecology's online publication index.

5.  What is my alternative to burning, and is Ecology doing anything to promote alternatives?

For Local Recycling Facilities, select here.

For information on agricultural burning Grants and Research, select here.

6. Who do I contact about a possible air quality problem in my neighborhood?

Visit our smoke complaint page.

7. Why is there a fee for agricultural burning permits?

The Clean Air Washington Act, originally entered into law in 1991, includes specific references to agricultural burning and fees that may be charged to farmers who burn on their land. Specifically, the law says:

  • The fee will cover the costs of the permitting program.
  • The fee will provide funds for research into burning alternatives.
  • The fee will not exceed $3.75 per acre for field burning or $1.00 per ton for pile burning.

8.  Who administers the agricultural burning permit program?

The law identifies parameters for delegating authority for agricultural burning programs to local county offices. They include conservation districts, counties, fire protection authorities, Ecology and Local Clean Air Agencies.

9.  Who sets the permit fee amount?

The Agricultural Burning Practices and Research Task Force is charged with setting the fee. The fee is based on a three-part equation: a portion dedicated to research, a state oversight portion and a local permit administration portion. The equation was based on actual costs.

10.  Where does the fee go?

Currently, Ecology has awarded almost $400,000 of grant and research monies to various projects. All this funding was acquired from permit fees. For a list of grant proposal, go to Ecology's grants page.

11. What if I just have a small spot to burn?

If you are burning at your residence, see the Outdoor Burning Focus Sheet. If you are requesting to burn small spots on your farm, you need to complete a Spot Burn Permit Application and pay a $37.50 fee for up to 10 acres of small spots per year.

12. What is the current fee?

Ecology currently has a fee for field burning of $3.75 per acre, with a minimum of $37.50, and a fee for pile burning of $1.00 per ton, with a minimum of $80.00.

  • $.50 an acre goes to research
  • $1.25 goes to local administration
  • Ecology oversight is $2.00 an acre

13. Who are the current permitting authorities and how do I reach them?

County Telephone Number
Adams 509.659.1533
Asotin 509.758.8012
Benton 509.783.1304
Columbia 509.382.4741
Franklin 509.545.3521
Garfield 509.843.1998
Grant 509.754.0195
Spokane 509.477.4727
Palouse CD 509.332.4101
Palouse Rock CD 509.648.3680
Whitman CD 509.397.4636
Walla Walla 509.522.6340
Yakima 509.574.1410
Pine Creek CD 509.397.4636
Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Kittitas, Klickitat 509.575.2490
Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, 509.329.3400

14.  What is Township, Section, Range?

The US Public Land Survey (USPLS) was used to survey and subdivide lands starting in the 1800's. A standard "Township" is a 6 mile x 6 mile square composed of 36 one mile square sections. The "Township" is defined by a north or south Township number and an east or west Range number from a set reference line. Note that "Township" refers both to the north/south descriptor and the 6x6 unit described by a pair of Township and Range descriptors. Due to original survey errors it is not uncommon to have sections and Townships that are odd-shaped or not quite standard size. If you are unfamiliar with the USPLS you may contact your county Assessor's Office with your parcel number (see your property tax statement) and they will be able to tell you what your section, Township & Range description is.


Related Agricultural Links

Contact Us for these counties: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties

Contact Us for these counties: Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat and Okanogan counties

Other County