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Do I Need A Permit For This Burn?

Do I Need A Permit For This Burn?

This process applies to burns in UNINCORPORATED BOULDER COUNTY ONLY

Burns that REQUIRE a permit:

Slash Pile Burns

A slash pile is made up of vegetative material that has been concentrated by manual or mechanical means into a pile measuring no more than 6’ wide by 6’ tall. Slash piles generally contain the remnants of mitigation projects or simply the forest debris cleaned up from around one’s property. However, there are restrictions on what types of material can be placed in a slash pile. For a list of these materials visit What can I burn?

Burns that DO NOT REQUIRE a permit:

Agricultural Burns

Agricultural open burning is exempt from the requirement to obtain an air quality permit from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division or an authorized local agency. The crux of the regulation’s definition of agricultural open burning pertains to the purpose of the burn.

There are four specific purposes:

  1. Preparing the soil for crop production,
  2. Weed control,
  3. Maintenance of water conveyance structures related to agricultural operations, and
  4. Other agricultural cultivation purposes.

A burn whose primary purpose is not agriculture should not be categorized as an agricultural open burn.

Examples of Agricultural Open Burning:

  • Conservation Reserve Program and ditch burns
  • Burning of vegetative detritus that accumulates in a reservoir
  • Burning stubble from a commercial annual row crop
  • Broadcast burns or pile burns to dispose of tree materials and brush that are to improve forage for livestock on operating ranches
  • Burning of fruit tree, vine pruning’s, and cull trees in and from an orchard or nursery
  • Habitat for animals that as a species are familiar as unrestrained wildlife, but individually are raised in confinement

Not Considered Agricultural Open Burning:

  • Row crops raised solely to feed wildlife on public lands
  • Designated tree farms
  • Properties classified as forest agriculture
  • Exotic or other unwanted plants in a wildland context
  • Most wildlife habitat improvement

For more detailed information on what constitutes open agricultural burning, please see: Agricultural Definition for Smoke Permits

Broadcast Burns

Often thought of as a “prescribed burn,” broadcast burns are defined as, “the controlled application of fire to wildland fuels in their natural or modified state over a predetermined area.” Broadcast burns are often conducted by the U.S. Forest Service to reduce wildland fire fuel loads, restore the ecological health of an area, or to clear weeds.

In unincorporated Boulder County, all broadcast burns conducted by community members require a burn plan to be registered with Boulder County Fire Management. If you plan to burn more than 10 acres of grass or more than 5 acres of other vegetation, contact Boulder County Fire Management before proceeding at or call 303-441-4500 to discuss the burn plan.

Recreational Fires

Fires used for non-commercial cooking of food for human consumption (barbeques, gas stoves, charcoal fires), for instructional or religious purposes (bonfires, sweat lodges) or for recreational purposes (campfires on private lands).

Other Exempted Burns

  • Tiki torches
  • Propane grills
  • Propane lanterns
  • Fires in a fireplace (indoor or out)
  • Candles
  • Kerosene heaters

Still confused?

Call 303-441-4500 if you have questions about a specific burn and whether it requires a permit.

Contact Us

Sheriff's Office

Main: 303-441-3600
Alternate: 303-441-4444
Fax: 303-441-4739


Sheriff's Headquarters
5600 Flatiron Parkway
Boulder, CO 80301
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