The City of Boone, Iowa

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Burning Ordinance Summary


The ordinance limits the days that landscape wastes can be burned and the hours of the day it can be burned. Periods of open burning are restricted to April 15th—May 15th and October 1st through November 15th of each year. Any burning of landscape waste shall not commence before 8:00 am and must be completely extinguished each day by 7:00 pm for the period of April 15th –May 15th and not commence before 8:00 am and be completely extinguished by 5:00 pm for the period of October 1st-November 15th.

When burning landscape waste, common sense is your best ally, take note of wind direction, locations of fire in respect to exposures, dry conditions, what direction the smoke will travel, etc.. A minimum distance of 25 feet should be kept between the fire and any buildings. If the pile to be burned is larger than 3 foot in diameter and 2 feet in height, the distance should be increased to 50 feet. It is suggested that a source of water be available, such as a connected garden hose, a bucket of water or an approved fire extinguisher. The fire shall be ATTENDED AT ALL TIMES BY A COMPETENT PERSON until the fire has been extinguished.

A reminder that landscape waste cannot be burned on City property, this includes alleys, streets and parking. Please do not blow or rake your leaves into the street as they have a tendency to flow into the storm sewers inlets and clog the system. 

Any other burning such as prescribed burns and the process of burning plant material from grubbing and clearing outside of these dates may be accomplished by permit only. We must emphasize that only landscape waste can be burned. As always it is illegal to burn garbage, paper, sawn wood, demolished components of any structure, tires or treated wood of any kind. Outdoor fires used for the preparation of food, and campfires for ceremonial and recreational purposes have been and still are exempt from this ordinance


While many individuals look forward to the pungent odor of burning leaves, for many these same smokey conditions can cause significant health problems. Smoke from the burning leaves is especially harmful to infants, young children, the elderly and those suffering from emphysema, bronchitis, and other lung and heart diseases. One of every six people is susceptible to the irritating effects of burning leaves.

Smoke from burning leaves contains fine particles that can bypass respiratory defenses and reach deep into lung tissue and cause acute and chronic medical problems. Breathing particulate matter can increase the chances of respiratory infection, reduce the volume of air inhaled and impair the lungs ability to use that air. Particulate matter can also trigger asthma attacks in some people. In addition to being an irritant, leaf smoke contains many hazardous chemicals, including carbon monoxide and benzo (a) pyrene. Carbon monoxide reduces the human bloods ability to carry oxygenated blood to the lungs and heart. Benzo (a) pyrene is a known carcinogen similar to what smokers inhale when smoking. 

Studies have shown that emissions created by leaf burning can create levels of pollution much higher than emissions from vehicles and industries combined. This is particularly evident in the autumn when thermal inversions keep the smoke low to the ground and does not allow it to dissipate. When wet or damp leaves are burned the resulting smoke contains a higher level of pollutants and toxic chemicals, up to four times higher than leaves that are not wet. 

Leaf burning can also reduce visibility, create safety hazards, cause a nuisance, soil buildings and other property and create demands on police and fire protection.


Composting is a viable alternative to the burning of leaves. Not only does it reduce the pollutants in the air, it provides a free and extremely effective fertilizer for flower beds and vegetable gardens. The resulting compost is rich in moisture and nutrients and is very effective in promoting the growth and health of your plants.

The Boone County Landfill sponsors free yard waste disposal days in the spring and the fall. For further information on this program please call 433-0591. Local refuse haulers are also available to haul landscape waste away. Contact your hauler for costs and schedule.


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