Outdoor burning of residential materials in Thurston County is prohibited July 15 through October 1 each year. This seasonal prohibition, crafted by the Thurston County Residential Outdoor Burning Committee, has been in effect for many years. The Committee includes representatives from Thurston County, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), local fire agencies and Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA).
Outdoor burning is prohibited year-round for residents within the cities of Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey, as well as for county residents within the Urban Growth Area (UGA) boundary. At this time, recreational fires are not affected by the seasonal curtailment. Recreational fires are fires used for entertainment or cooking purposes and are made of either charcoal or seasoned firewood. They can be no larger than 3-feet diameter.
The restrictions on outdoor burning during the summer and early autumn have resulted in a significant drop in brush fires and property damage each of the past couple years, according to fire officials.
“Safety stands as the most important consideration here,” said Dan Nelson, spokesman for ORCAA. “Also, as the restrictions have greatly reduced the number of escaped brush fires in the county each year, there has been a reduction in big smoke events as well.”
Fortunately, safe and effective alternatives to burning exist. Residents have several options for disposing of their yard waste. These include the following:
- Composting: Maintaining a home compost pile provides you with a ready source of rich soil additives that will get rid of your yard waste while reducing (or eliminating) your need for expensive fertilizes. Use the natural compost as a soil additive in your gardens to keep your flowers bright, and your vegetables plump and tasty.
- Chipping/Grinding: Bigger, woody debris may be too large for the compost bin. That’s where a chipper comes in. Rent one yourself, or get together with your neighbors to do a neighborhood chipping party. Wood chips can be composted, or used as ground cover around open flower beds (to supplement or replace expensive beauty bark).
- County-Wide Curbside Organics Bin, Offered through LeMay, www.lemayinc.com. Curbside organics/yard waste service is available in virtually all areas of Thurston County. To sign up for service and have a bin delivered to your home, call LeMay Enterprises at (360) 923-0111. If you live in the City of Olympia, call (360) 753-8368, option 1. (Yard waste bins are now called “organics” bins.) For more information, visit the Food Plus Organics Recycling web page.
- Yard Debris Drop-Off Site located at:
Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center,
2418 Hogum Bay Road NE
Lacey, WA 98516
For more information on the outdoor burning rules throughout ORCAA’s jurisdiction, visit https://www.orcaa.org/outdoor-burning/residential-outdoor-burning/