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McHenry County Health Dept. officials remind residents about burn ordinances

WOODSTOCK – McHenry County Department of Health officials wish to remind residents of the restrictions regarding the proper disposal of landscape waste.

Landscape waste includes grass or shrubbery cuttings, leaves and tree limbs.  

The McHenry County Public Health Ordinance lists the following restrictions for burning of onsite-generated landscape waste on Saturdays and Sundays during April, May, October and November:

• No burning is permitted from dusk to dawn. 

• The burn area must be located at least 100 feet from any school, business, church or house and 50 feet from any barn, shed, detached garage or other accessory structure. 

• Landscape waste cannot be brought from another property to be burned for disposal. 

• Burning of any other materials, such as cardboard, paper, plastics, construction materials, or manure is prohibited at all times.  

Most municipalities have ordinances which also restrict or prohibit the burning of yard waste.

In areas where there is not a ban or more restrictive ordinance, the county ordinance must be followed. An Illinois EPA Bureau of Air Application for Open Burning Permit is required for habitat reclamation burns regardless of acreage.

For information, contact the Illinois EPA Bureau of Air Permit Section at 217-782-2113.

MCDH encourages more environmentally sound alternatives to open burning of landscape waste including:

• Using a mulching mower for grass and leaves or a chipper for branches.

• Using native landscaping, which will reduce the amount of yard waste. 

• Composting landscape waste, which can reduce material volume by 70 percent to 80 percent and the compost can be used as a soil conditioner to improve plant growth. 

Licensed municipal waste haulers in McHenry County are required to provide pickup of landscape waste from residential customers; an additional fee may apply.

Residents also may drop off landscape waste at an approved compost facility or landscape waste transfer station; an additional fee may apply.

For enforcement of open burning issues, call MCDH at 815-334-4585 (after hours at 815-344-7421) or your local police or fire nonemergency number.

Complete details about the ordinance, suggested alternatives, exemptions and permit applications are available online on MCDH’s webpage or by calling 815-334-4585.

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