The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will reinstate burning permits by issuing a Special Fire Order. This is due to the exceptional and prolonged drought conditions and potential for elevated fire danger. The permit reinstatement will begin at 12:01 a.m., Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in designated DNR protection areas until further notice. 

The permit reinstatement applies to the following 12 extensive DNR protection area counties outside incorporated cities and villages: all of Columbia, Crawford, Green Lake, Marquette, Portage, Richland, Sauk, Waupaca, Waushara counties and portions of Dane, Grant and Iowa counties.

A DNR annual burning permit is now required for burning in a barrel, a debris pile and grass or wooded areas as outlined by the permit, unless the ground is completely snow-covered. Anyone wishing to burn must obtain a DNR burn permit and then visit WisBURN for the current burn restrictions.

Traditionally, DNR burn permits are required in extensive protection areas from Jan. 1 through May 31, anytime the ground is not snow-covered. Reinstating permits allows the DNR to suspend burning on a given day during times of elevated fire danger.

A DNR burn permit is not required for campfires intended for cooking or warming. Consider having small campfires in a designated fire ring or device in the evening hours to avoid burning under elevated fire conditions, which are typically found during the day.  

Current wildfire concerns are primarily due to the lack of precipitation over the southern part of the state. Wisconsin has received record low rain this year, resulting in varying levels of severe to exceptional drought. These dry conditions, coupled with the potential for increased fire danger in the fall due to falling dead leaves, pine needles and other dry vegetation, make debris burning especially risky. Debris burning continues to be one of the leading causes of wildfires in Wisconsin.   

The DNR intends to keep the permit requirements in place until the drought situation improves significantly. The DNR will continue to evaluate as conditions change.  

Check current fire danger, wildfire reports and burning restrictions on the DNR website.