Don’t ruin the spring smells with burning ones

Published 4:30 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

By Staff
It is that time of the year when the air should begin to smell of the budding flowers shooting their roots up through the brown dried debris.
Instead, all too often the smell in the air is of burning leaves and brush.
In an effort to get the yard ready for spring, many people think burning restrictions don't apply to them.
Granted, many of us live in rural areas, but burning leaves creates air pollution, which to many is a serious health issue.
The Department of Environmental Quality reminds homeowners that composting or mulching yard waste is a much safer and healthy alternative to burning.
Though you are reminded not to try and pack leaves and sticks in your waste containers, which will end up in the landfills, there are other ways to dispose of this material and even help your own environment, along with the air we all breathe.
Some communities have ways of making municipal compost, which then is shared with the residents. Individuals can contact their government's Department of Public Works for instructions.
If a community does not have a yard waste program, residents are encouraged to review the following information available from the DEQ:
A one-page brochure entitled Open Burning Regulations in Michigan is available. Go to and select "Open Burning Information" listed under Spotlight.
DEQ's Home Composting brochure and other alternatives to burning are also found in the "Open Burning Information" Web page.
Or contact the DEQ Environmental Assistance Center at 1-800-662-9278.
In communities where burning is allowed, permits are required to burn leaves or brush. Homeowners are reminded to obtain a permit before burning, and to make sure the fire is in a location where it will not cause any damage.
The City of Niles offers a free limb and brush chipping program to its residents now through early October. Please keep the following rules in mind:
Pickup is scheduled for the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.
Residents must call the Department of Public Works (683-4700, ext. 208) by no later than noon on the Friday just prior to the scheduled pickup day.
Residents should place limbs and brush out for pick up as close to the scheduled pick up day as possible.
Material must be placed at the curb or edge of roadway by no later than 7 a.m. on the scheduled pickup day, with the cut ends facing toward the street whenever possible.
Material must be easily handled by one man.
Vines, leaves, limbs and brush with dirt attached, rose and other thorn bushes, lawn and flower clippings, and limbs with wire or nails will not be picked up.
The City of Niles reserves the right to limit or reject the material to be picked up due to size, quantity, or type.
The program is not intended for tree topping or removal that would normally be handled by a tree removal contractor.
Do not cover the water meter lid in the boulevard. This limits the meter reader's access to our meter which may cause readings to be estimated.
The maximum amount of brush to be picked up per location per list is the bulk (pre-chipped) amount that will fit into a single dump truck.
Residents are requested to use good judgment when placing limbs and brush out for pick up. Very large piles have a tendency to slow the program down, delaying the pickup for others on the list.
Please be patient with the program. As long as you are on the list and have abided by the above rules, your items will be picked up. If you are on the list but your limbs or brush are not picked up on the first day of the pickup, please do not become upset or concerned.
Keep in mind that this program is extremely popular, with the pickup list many times surpassing 100 locations. Because of this, the Street Department sometimes must work several days in order to complete the pickup.
It is recommended that you place your brush out at the street just prior to the scheduled pickup starting date. Placing the brush out several days in advance may cause grass in the boulevard to become yellow or die.