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If you have internet access, you can search the Wisconsin Court System (CCAP). Enter your first & last name, then search. The search can be narrowed to just Oconto Co. by clicking on the County box and entering "Oconto". Scroll through the information to "Court Activities" to view upcoming court activities.
The Clerk of Court follows Supreme Court Rule 72 regarding records retention. Please see our Retention Brochure for details.
View the complete list of Wisconsin Circuit Court fees.
See our payment section or call the Clerk of Courts Office at 920-834-6859.
Check out the DOT's web site.
See Plea Options under Traffic & Forfeitures.
View our Payment Plan Request instructions (PDF).
Disposition of the money posted will not occur until the case has been closed. After the case is closed, any remaining bond, after it is applied to the fine, court costs, assessments, and surcharges, will be returned to the person designated on the bond form.
The State does not have standardized forms for large claims civil cases. If you need help filing a civil case you should contact an attorney. Note: There are many different types of civil cases.
A good place to start is the Clerk of Courts Office. You can use the public access computers or view the actual records involved.
To satisfy a judgment that may be showing on your credit report with the court, the debtor must complete and file a Satisfaction of Judgment (PDF).This form is completed by the debtor, but must be signed by the creditor stating the judgment has been satisfied. Note: The creditor's signature must be notarized.Once this form is completed, it can be filed with the Clerk of Courts. A $5 filing fee will be charged. Once the fee is paid, the judgment will show that is has been fully satisfied.
See Request Copies of Court Records.
This can be complicated. Refer to Wisconsin Statute 767.313 or seek the assistance of an attorney. The State does not have standardized forms for an Annulment.
The court can expunge criminal records in only three circumstances:
Other than these three situations, a judge has no other authority or power to expunge cases. There is no authority to expunge other types of cases, for example civil or small claims cases.
See Expunging Court Records: Helpful Information and Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) for more information.
Call 920-834-7000 and ask for the Clinical Intake Worker.
If you are court-ordered to have an OWI assessment, you must be assessed in the county that you live in. If you live in Oconto County, you would come to the Oconto County Health and Human Services to register for the assessment. Registration consists of paying the $240 assessment fee in full before you will be given an appointment. You will also be asked to complete a questionnaire about your alcohol and drug use. When you come to your appointment, you must bring a copy of the arrest report with you. You must also bring an adult family member. At the assessment, a driver safety plan will be developed based on your needs. The plan could range from a minimum of educational classes to alcohol and drug treatment.
Oconto County lists all open positions on our website, on the State of Wisconsin JOBNET, Facebook, Twitter, and in two local newspapers; the Oconto Reporter and the Oconto Times-Herald.
Applications will only be accepted online for positions that are currently advertised and are available on the County website.
We list all open positions on our website, on the State of Wisconsin JOBNET and in the two local newspapers, the Oconto Reporter and the Oconto Times-Herald; County Facebook and Twitter pages.
Wages and fringes vary by position. Contact the Human Resources office for details on wages and fringes for each position.
Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance handles liability, workers' compensation, legal expenses, underground storage tanks, equipment breakdown, employee blanket bonds and public official blanket bonds, and property insurance. Aegis Corporation handles the administration of insurance and claims.
WCA Group Health Trust provides health insurance and Delta Dental provided dental insurance coverage for employees.
There are 4 ways to apply:
Yes. Please call the Bay Lake Consortium at 888-794-5747 to schedule appointments, report changes to your household and income, or to get general information about your case.
During normal working hours contact the Department of Health and Human services at 920-834-7000 and ask for the Family Services Intake Worker. If it is after hours, contact your local law enforcement agency.
Contact the Out of Home Care Coordinator at 920-834-7000.
Oconto County residents or landowners can purchase firewood permits online or by calling the office at 920-834-6995.
If you are unable to resolve your issue by first talking to your assigned worker as well as their supervisor, you should then contact the Department Director. Since some services / programs require their own specific procedures to resolve complaints, the Director will gather information and determine the proper course of action.
Obtain information from the County Clerk's Office or find the forms online.
Wisconsin State Department of Transportation (WISDOT) representatives are in the City of Oconto on Tuesday and Thursday (7 am to 5 pm) at 1008 Pecor Street. Phone 800-924-3570 or go to WISDOT (Limited access for persons with a disability).
Contact your local Town, Village or City Official.
Telephone: 800-772-1213 Social Security Website
If you are court-ordered to have an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) assessment, you must be assessed in the county that you live in. If you live in Oconto County, you would come to the Oconto County Health and Human Services to register for the assessment. Registration consists of paying the $240 assessment fee in full before you will be given an appointment. You will also be asked to complete a questionnaire about your alcohol and drug use. When you come to your appointment, you must bring a copy of the arrest report with you. You must also bring an adult family member. At the assessment, a driver safety plan will be developed based on your needs. The plan could range from a minimum of educational classes to alcohol and drug treatment.
Oconto County Platbooks may be purchased from the County Clerk's office at the Oconto County Courthouse.
Order forms are available online.
Boat launch stickers may be purchased one of three ways:
Firewood permits are restricted to residents and/or landowners of Oconto County. Firewood taken is for personal use only and is not to be sold. Call 920-834-6995 for site locations.
Wisconsin Statute Chapter 26.03 requires that all persons must file a cutting notice with the County Clerk prior to cutting any logs, poles, posts, pulpwood, Christmas trees, or other forest products from any privately owned forest land in Wisconsin. A cutting notice is not required for cutting fuelwood for personal home use, when clearing land for agricultural use or for cutting up to 5 Christmas trees on your property for your own use. The primary reason for this requirement is to ensure that all property taxes are up-to-date and paid in full before harvesting begins. The law also helps protect private woodlands from destructive harvesting practices. Cutting notice permit forms may be obtained by mail from the County Clerk's office or from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Each cutting notice filed is valid through December 31 of the year it was issued. Information needed to complete the permit includes description, section, township and range, land owner and logger's name and address. The County Clerk submits each cutting notice to the County Treasurer to determine if there are any unpaid taxes on the land. When permits are completed, they are returned to the applicant and copies are provided to Town Chairpersons and the area DNR Forester.
The Notice of Timber Cutting Form can be found online.
GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. Read more about GIS.
Oconto County follows the DATCAP rules and regulations on firewood movement in Wisconsin. Visit the Emerald Ash Borer Resource Guide for the most updated information or call 877-303-WOOD (9663).
Yes, maintenance such as pumping at an interval of less than 3 years is acceptable. Some plumbers upon installation inform the owners to pump more frequently to allow the dispersal cells a resting (drying) period. This should be done during the dry summer months.
Oconto County's intention is to have all maintenance notices sent between late spring through early fall. Holding off on pumping until late fall increases the possibility of freezing your septic system if the tank is required to be pumped. See question regarding when tanks need to be pumped and the required servicing. All septic tanks need warmth to maintain a temperature above freezing through the winter months. Last winter's weather was conducive to freeze-ups since there was no snow cover for insulation during the cold temperatures. In order to avoid freeze-ups it is best to perform the maintenance in the summer months. If the tanks cannot be pumped until late fall or later provide additional insulation over the tank(s).
The information that should be reviewed is the maintenance plan included with the sanitary permit if the permit was issued after July 1, 2000. A Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems Manual is available either on the Environmental Protection Agency website or by emailing the Oconto County Zoning Department or phoning 920-834-6827.
WI Admin. Code SPS 383.50 requires that all Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS) owners must perform maintenance on their septic systems. Oconto County has completed an inventory of all pre-1989 sanitary permits and placed onto the maintenance program as required by this code. Starting in 2017, the pre-1989 properties that are documented to have a POWTS will be enrolled into the maintenance program by receiving notices to have their POWTS serviced and the documentation provided to Oconto County Zoning Department. 2017 notices will include all permits of record from the 1980s. 2018 notices will include all permits of record from the 1970s. 2019 notices will include all permits prior to 1970 and any other parcels known to have or suspected to have a POWTS. The suspected property owners will have an opportunity to provide documentation that there is or is not a POWTS located on their parcel so the Zoning Department can have an accurate account of all active POWTS within Oconto County.
In this case you should contact the service provider who pumped the tanks and ask if this individual would sign the card stating they verified the system meets the requirements of the notice. Remember that this individual is required to verify all components of the system and not just the pumping of the tanks. As per state code, the owner is ultimately responsible for ensuring the operation and maintenance of the POWTS.
The tank should be inspected for the condition of the manholes, observation pipes, cracks or leaks in the tank, baffle/filter condition and pumping if needed. Tanks that have combined sludge and scum levels over 1/3 the tank capacity shall be pumped. In most situations, the tanks are pumped regardless of the amount of solids. The pump tanks should also be inspected for proper operation of alarms, pumps, etc. The dispersal cell(s) should be visually inspected for discharge to the ground surface and verifying effluent levels if any in the observation pipes.
A second notice to have the maintenance completed will be sent. This will note that maintenance shall be completed in an expedited timeline. If not received within that time frame Oconto County has the authority to issue citations and seek legal action to resolve the human health hazard. Remember that the requirements of proper maintenance are to your benefit. Using a financial comparison associated with this maintenance, the annual cost to maintain your vehicle is substantially more than the cost to maintain your POWTS.
The requirements pertain to all septic systems and do not differentiate between primary and secondary dwellings (cottages). In some situations systems on limited use may have a higher potential of malfunctioning. The systems have an increased probability of freezing that can break components in the tank or dispersal cell potentially causing a backup of the system into the structure or discharge to the ground surface causing a human health hazard.
A key reason to maintain your system is to save money! A three-year inspection is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire POWTS. Other reasons include preventing the spread of infection and disease and protecting the ground water. Also, the state plumbing code requires all active systems installed in Oconto County to have maintenance completed at least once every 3 years.
In past state plumbing codes, the county was only mandated to provide maintenance notices to parcels that pulled a sanitary permit issued after the date the county enrolled into the state WI Fund Grant program. In Oconto County that date was in 1989. So all new permits since 1989 were the only properties that received notices for required maintenance. Since 2000, WI Admin. Code and WI Statute provided a deadline in 2017 for all counties to complete an inventory of all known properties that have a POWTS. That inventory is complete. Oconto County is now mandated to enroll all POWTS into the 3-year maintenance cycle by 2019. Breaking up the pre-1989 POWTS into thirds, Oconto County will accomplish this mandate over the next couple of years to be in compliance. So your neighbor will be receiving a notice within the next two years to perform the maintenance requirements the same as you have over the past years.
There are many reasons why shoreland zoning and developing 75 ft from a lake or stream are of value. Review the reasons shoreland zoning is in place: The Value of Shoreland Zoning (PDF).
Everyone, everywhere, all the time! Wisconsin’s recycling requirements apply to everyone in the state, at all locations. This includes schools, public places, businesses, special events, homes and apartments.
The drop-off centers are established for recycling of materials generated from a resident of that municipality. It is important to utilize your local municipal site for recycling to save on your municipality expenses to recycle materials. Nonresidents may be subject to additional charges to dispose of recyclables or may not be accepted at the municipal drop-off center.
Businesses are to include recycling of their generated waste as part of their business waste stream. Businesses should consult with their contracted waste hauler about recycling materials generated from their business.
Oconto County no longer runs a county-wide recycling program. Some municipalities have decided to be the responsible unit of government for the recycling to their citizens. If your municipality is not listed you will need to contact your municipal clerk or view your municipal website for further information on recycling.
Flood Zone Determination is a process used by lending institutions to meet their federal banking regulation requirements to make an evaluation of whether or not the structure they are processing for a loan is in the one percent chance flood hazard area. Lenders can do this evaluation themselves or, as most elect to do, hire such service provided by firms that make flood zone determinations their sole business.
The 100- and 500-year Flood Zones may be viewed at the Oconto County Land and Water Resources Department. Unofficial maps may be viewed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.
The Federal Emergency Management's (FEMA) website provides a list of companies that are in the business of providing flood determination services. FEMA makes the following note regarding the list: "FEMA does not attest to the quality or accuracy of the services offered. That must be determined by potential users of those services. FEMA does not approve, endorse, regulate, or otherwise sanction any company on this list."
In some cases, a lender determines that a property is in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), but the property owner disagrees. The SFHA is also known as the 100-year floodplain. It is more precisely defined as the floodplain associated with a flood that has a 1% annual chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Therefore, the SFHA is not a flood event that happens once in a hundred years; rather, a flood event that has a 1% chance of occurring every year. Property owners in this situation have a couple of options. They may apply for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), or a Letter of Map Revision based on Fill (LOMR-F) (if fill placement is the basis of the request). In addition, property owners may apply for a Letter of Determination Review (LODR). Forms for these purposes can be found on the FEMA website. The following paragraphs describe first the LOMA or LOMR-F process, followed by the LODR process.
Upon receiving a completed MT-EZ (for LOMAs) or MT-1 (for LOMR-Fs) application, FEMA reviews property-specific information (including surveyed elevation data; typically the elevation of the lowest adjacent grade of the structure in question, provided by a licensed land surveyor. Note: The homeowner may be required to hire a licensed engineer or surveyor to perform this elevation survey, if this data is not readily available), and makes a final flood determination for the property. Once an application and all necessary data are received, the determination is normally issued within 30 to 60 days. If the LOMA or LOMR-F removes the SFHA designation from the property, it can then be presented to the lender as proof that there is no federal flood insurance requirement for the property. However, even though a LOMA or LOMR-F may waive the federal requirement for flood insurance, a lender retains the prerogative to require flood insurance. No fee is charged for the review of a LOMA; however; there is a $425 review fee for a LOMR-F. A listing of all fees associated with flood map reviews can be found on the FEMA website.
In addition, property owners may apply for a Letter of Determination Review (LODR). A LODR is a review of the lender's determination. In other words, the LODR is a process where FEMA reviews the same information the lender used to determine that the structure was located in a SFHA. It is important to note that the LODR process does not consider the elevation of the structure or property above the flood level; rather, it considers only the location of the structure relative to the special flood hazard area boundary shown on the FIRM. Thus, property owners should be aware that the lender does not consider the elevation of the property or structure when determining if the property or structure is in or out of the SFHA. FEMA reviews this information and issues its finding of whether the structure is located in the SFHA according to the current NFIP map. The request for such a letter must be jointly requested by the property owner and the lender no later than 45 days following the date the lender notified the borrower that the property is in a special flood hazard area. While this determination cannot consider the elevation of the structure or property, it can be useful if the property owner feels the lender's interpretation of the map is incorrect.
To summarize, then, there are obviously some important distinctions between the two processes (LODR versus LOMA/LOMR-F):
The new Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac flood insurance guidelines require lenders to determine whether a structure is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The key distinction for government officials is between providing information and making a determination that a property is in or out of a SFHA. If a local official makes a determination and fills out the Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form (SFHDF), he/she could be liable for inaccuracies or misrepresentations. Local officials' only obligation is to have the information available and accessible to the public, including the determination companies.
In Wisconsin, it is recommended that local officials require the property owner to provide a site plan showing the location of the proposed project in relation to the SFHA. The site plan should be done by a licensed engineer or surveyor.
Local officials should be extremely cautious about making flood zone determinations. The flood zone determination companies are being paid to use their expertise to make this determination and to guarantee that it is accurate. These companies cannot expect local officials to make the determination. This is not the local officials' responsibility; it is the lender's, under federal law.
If a local official chooses to assist property owners in determining their flood zone status, it should be made clear that the determination is for informational purposes only. The property owner's lender must still have an official determination done on an approved form, with the preparer's name, address, and telephone number listed. The preparer is the individual or company that made the determination, not the government agency or official that provided information. Local planning and zoning officials' names should not appear in this space. Local officials should make sure the lenders in their area understand this.
The making of flood zone determinations is a growing business, and competition is keen. There are over 100 companies providing the service. To cut costs, some companies simply call local officials and ask them to interpret a flood map over the phone. It's best to not provide the interpretation. The local official has no way of knowing if the property information they are given is accurate. It is the determination company's responsibility to visually interpret the correct map in making a determination. Any reputable company will have all the current maps for any area in which they do business. Local governments simply need to make the flood maps available for public review. Communities currently participating in the Community Rating System (CRS) program may wish to take note of the requirements of Activity 320 - Map Information. This CRS activity is designed to reward communities for informing a requester of a property's flood zone status, not determine whether flood insurance is required. This activity does not create any liability for government officials. Local officials should make it clear to all requesters that the lender (or a third party hired by the lender) is still required to do an accurate determination and fill out the determination form.
Harold and Blanche are buying a new home. As the closing approaches, they are contacted by the mortgage company and told that they need flood insurance. They notify their agent, Robbie Realtor, who calls the mortgage company and informs the lender that the survey shows the house is not in a flood zone. The mortgage company requests that a certification be obtained from a flood certification company. This is done, and the report verifies Robbie's claim that the property is outside the flood zone. The lender agrees that flood insurance is not required. How do flood certification companies determine if the property lies within a flood zone?
Flood certification companies utilize federal and county flood zone maps to determine whether or not property lies within a flood zone. Once the determination is made from a federal map that the property appears to be located within a flood zone, these results are compared with the county maps. If access to the survey of the property is available, this is used as an additional tool in the decision-making process. Finally, visual inspection of the property helps in determining if the developer has modified the topography of the land to raise the lot and/or home above the flood zone.
Flood zone lines can appear to come close to a house, and it is difficult to determine the exact location of a flood line merely from a map. For many new subdivisions, roads and streets have not yet been drawn on the map, and the location of the lot can be difficult to discern. Once a flood certification company finds a lot to be located in a flood zone, the survey should be checked to confirm the findings. If the survey shows that the house lies outside the flood zone, the lender should be asked for a re-evaluation by the same or a different company. This may result in saving a client money and peace of mind.
You need a building permit for all construction that involves the construction, repair, movement to another site, removal, or demolition of any building or structure. All electrical, plumbing and mechanical work needs a separate permit for each trade. The price of the permit is calculated using the cost of the construction. View our Permits, Applications and Procedures.
Work on a project may not legally begin before a permit is obtained and on the work site.
Water heater applications are processed at the counter.
You can order passes and permits online or at any of the boat launches. Passes can also be purchased at the Oconto County Courthouse on the third-floor Annex, or by mailing a check payable to:
Oconto County Forest & Parks Department301 Washington StreetOconto, WI 54153
Name, address, and vehicle license plate number must accompany the check.
Maps can be viewed on the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation (OCEDC) website, or call the OCEDC at 920-834-6969, or the Oconto County Forest and Parks Department at 920-834-6995.
You may be eligible for a grant under this program if all of the following requirements are met:
When properly operating, a private sewage system safely treats wastewater by storing sludge and solids in the septic tank and by treating and dispersing wastewater in a soil absorption field. However, a failing system can harm the environment by discharging sewage to the surface, to a lake or stream, or to groundwater. Your private sewage system may not show any apparent signs of failure and yet be failing.
The types of failing private sewage systems are divided into three categories:
Amounts may vary based on the extent of the worked needed to bring your system into compliance with the state plumbing code.
Grant funds are allocated on an annual cycle. The county submits applications to the Commerce Department in January for all eligible individuals within our jurisdiction. Commerce makes grant awards for these applications in the following fiscal year or in the fall of each year.
Complete the front side of the Owner's Application for the Wisconsin Funds and returned it to the Oconto County Zoning Office with:
Please have this information to our office no later than January 15th so that it may be submitted in time.
You can get a copy of the Owner's Application for the Wisconsin Funds by contacting your local zoning office.
You should call 911 whenever you have a life-threatening emergency including:
The owner of your facility or complex is required to provide for information on proper recycling and solid waste disposal. See the following documents for further information:
Check out a YouTube video on the subject.
Plastic bags should not be tossed in with the single-stream recyclables. Plastic bags comingled with other recyclables are problematic to the separation process of single-stream recycling. They can get easily wrapped in the processing equipment causing damage and downtime to remove the plastic film. Plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery or department stores. Please keep plastic bags out of the single-stream recyclables.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) News Hour has produced a brief, 2.5-minute video on not placing plastic bags in your recycling cart. It explains why this can be a big problem for recycling facilities and why plastic bags should be recycled at drop-off locations only. Check it out!
No. Caps and lids on plastic bottles and containers are now recommended to be placed back on the item after emptied and rinsed. In the past, caps and lids were not easily recyclable as they are made of different plastic materials than the containers. Recycling processors can readily separate the plastic caps and lids from the containers when run through the chipping and shredding process. So it is now suggested to empty, rinse and replace caps and lids on all plastics destined for recycling.
Yes. All paper, cardboard, plastic and glass containers, bi-metal cans can be tossed into one recycling dumpster at your municipal drop-off center. Some exceptions apply. Please review the Recycling Guide found in the Forms and Document tab for information on proper recycling of these items.
The following municipalities are under the County Recycling Program: Abrams, Bagley, Doty, Village and Town of Lena, Little Suamico, Maple Valley, Morgan, Town of Oconto, Riverview, Stiles, City and Town of Oconto Falls, Village of Suring and Town of How. These municipalities' recycling services are managed by the county to reduce administrative and recycling costs. Municipalities not listed above are under their own municipal recycling program. Citizens in the following municipalities should contact their municipal clerks for information on the proper recycling of items: Brazeau, Breed, Chase, Gillett, Lakewood, Little River, Mountain, Pensaukee, Spruce, Townsend, Underhill, Cities of Oconto and Gillett.
Each municipality now must cover the expense to have single-stream recycling materials picked up and transported to a recycling facility. Most municipalities do not charge their citizens for recycling single-stream items (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal containers) but may charge "out of town" citizens to cover any additional unanticipated costs associated with these recyclables. In order to save on the recycling costs to your municipality, your recyclables should be taken to the municipal drop-off center in which you reside.
Cartons can be recycled with the single-stream recycling waste stream of paper, cardboard, plastics, bi-metal containers and glass. Rinse containers and flatten to preserve space. For additional information on carton containers please visit the Carton Council website.
The following links provide information on recycling and waste reduction for businesses.
You can Green Up your move with these recycling tips. Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources page Reduce Waste and Save Money During Your Move.
Giving and sharing during the holiday season can add up to additional waste with extra gift wrap, extra packaging, disposable dishes, leftover food and more. But we can make small changes in some of our holiday habits to reduce additional waste and save money. Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources page Reduce Waste and Save Money This Holiday Season.
Adding a new deck? Slapping on a new coat of paint? Finally, fixing the roof? When improving your home, you can reduce, reuse and recycle, saving money and protecting the environment as well.
Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR) page Reduce Waste and Save Money During Home Remodels.
Many types of light bulbs contain metals such as mercury. Examples include:
Because these bulbs contain metals and toxic chemicals, they should be properly disposed of to avoid contaminating the environment or harming human health.
Visit WIDNR Recycling Light Bulbs.
A new Department of Natural Resources (DNR) online tool helps residents know "Can I Burn?"
The DNR has a new, interactive online tool that provides information to Wisconsin residents and businesses about open burning.
DNR's open burning webpages now include an interactive tool called "Can I burn?", which allows users to input information regarding their burn intent, locations and types of materials they want to burn, and then provides directions on what to do next.
The online tool is user-friendly and takes less than a minute to complete. If residents are intending to burn several different material types, they will have to complete the tool for each type to determine eligibility.
The new open burning webpages also include updates on open burning's environmental and health impacts, DNR contacts, information on alternative ways to manage materials and how to file open burning complaints.
The administrative rules of the Air Management and Waste Management Programs prohibit anyone from burning any of the following materials under any conditions:
These prohibitions apply to individual property owners (or renters) as well as to business and industry.
Where not prohibited by local ordinance, leaf burning and burning of plant clippings and brush is allowed anywhere in the state, as long as weather conditions do not pose a fire hazard. However, leaf burning is discouraged because of the air pollution it causes and because of the benefits of composting and mulching with these materials.
Individual homeowners may burn small quantities of dry combustible rubbish such as paper, cardboard and/or clean untreated wood. Again, local ordinance can override this allowance. This is especially true in populated areas such as southeastern Wisconsin, where most municipalities have banned or severely limited open burning. Paper and cardboard can now be recycled in all communities, and recycling is the best disposal method for these items.
In either case, be sure to contact your local fire authority before you start burning to find out if you need to obtain a burning permit.
Instead of burning, the DNR recommends that you:
Garbage normally includes wet food scraps and plastic, which are not allowed to be burned. Therefore, you may burn only the materials that are allowed to be open burned-namely, leaves, plant clippings, personal papers and clean, untreated wood. Burn barrels operate at low temperatures (400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit), resulting in incomplete combustion of the wastes being burned.
Burning prohibited materials such as plastics, asphalt, rubber and other man-made materials generates additional hazardous air pollutants. A 1994 study done for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that each pound of garbage burned in a burn barrel emits twice as much furans, 20 times more dioxin and 40 times more particulates than if that same pound of garbage were burned in an incinerator with air pollution controls.
Burn barrels often emit acid vapors, carcinogenic tars, and "heavy metals" such as lead, cadmium and chromium, as well as unhealthful levels of carbon monoxide. The closer you stand to the burn barrel, the more of these harmful chemicals you inhale.
Residual ash is another result of incomplete combustion. Frequently, a significant portion of material in the barrel-especially at the bottom-is not burned up. Ash disposal outside of a sanitary landfill can cause problems sooner (for those immediately exposed) or later (for example, if water contacting the ash becomes contaminated and gets into groundwater and/or surface water).
Materials that may not be burned in a burn barrel-such as tires, plastics and rubber-also should not be burned in a furnace, wood stove or similar home heating system.
The DNR Forestry Program, under Chapter 26, Wisconsin Statutes, and many local governments require burning permits to prevent forest fires and protect life and property. State laws administered by the Air Management Program and many local ordinances spell out the kinds of materials that may be burned and the conditions under which burning will or won't be allowed.
Local ordinances may require burning permits to minimize nuisance effects from open burning. Burning permits are also designed so that people may burn only in areas where and at times when the risk of wildfire is not high. If a burning permit or license is obtained, it does not give authority to burn materials that are illegal to burn under state or local law.
Wisconsin businesses, industry and municipalities generally will need an approved incinerator to burn waste materials and are prohibited from doing any open burning with one exception. If a business, industry or municipality wishes to burn clean wood waste or brush, it must first obtain approval and a license from the Waste Management Program to operate as a "woodburning facility", as required in section NR 502.11, Wis. Admin. Code. A wood-burning facility license may include guidance limiting the burning conditions and amounts of material that may be burned, to ensure that air quality is not adversely affected. Please contact your district Waste Management Program staff to get additional information on what is needed to get this license.
If the woodburning facility license is issued in an area that is in an intensive or extensive fire control area, the facility must also obtain a burning permit in accordance with Chapter 26 of the Wisconsin Statutes from the local representative of the Forestry program. Burning should be done only under favorable burning conditions: relative humidity not more than 65%, and winds of 5 to 12 miles per hour.
Small businesses, commercial enterprises, and industries may not use burn barrels or engage in other kinds of open burning and may not be granted burning permits by municipalities. However, the prohibition on burn barrels does not apply to small businesses in which the owners reside at the same location and cannot separate their business waste from their household waste.
Since January 3, 1993, Wisconsin's Recycling Law has prohibited the disposal or burning of yard waste without using energy recovery in solid waste facilities (including commercial, municipal, industrial and government landfills and wood burning facilities). Yard waste is defined as leaves, grass clippings, yard and garden debris, and brush, including clean, woody vegetative matter smaller than six inches in diameter. However, a new law effective May 1994 allows the DNR to grant wood burning facilities a conditional waiver to burn yard and garden brush.
As of January 1, 1995, the Recycling Law requires that the following items may neither be burned at commercial, industrial or municipal facilities nor sent to landfills for disposal:
Packaging materials, such as corrugated shipping containers, roll wrapper stock or scrap wood, are classified as municipal solid waste, not as industrial process waste. Consequently, these materials may be burned only in a permitted municipal solid waste combustor licensed by the Waste Management Program.
Commercial and industrial operations also may not burn wood pallets, wood scraps, brush, or other clean wood unless they obtain a DNR license for a "wood burning facility" as defined in section NR 502.11, Wis. Admin. Code. This approval contains numerous restrictions. The business may also need to obtain a burning permit in accordance with the Forestry Program's requirements in Chapter 26 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
With these limitations, businesses are trying to find ways to generate less waste and reuse or recycle as much as possible. Businesses should dispose of non-recyclable wastes at an approved landfill. Visit WIDNR's Managing Waste and Materials for further information.