Douglas County commissioners to consider changes to open burning regulations in rural areas

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022.

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will consider new limits on how and when county residents can burn leaves, brush, grass and other types of open burning that frequently occurs at households in rural parts of the county.

According to a memo from Robert Bieniecki, the county’s emergency management director, revisions are needed to improve safety as the county continues to grow.

“With the increased population in unincorporated areas, uncontrolled and unregulated open burning poses an unreasonable threat to public safety,” the memo says. “It is also acknowledged that some large portions of the (county) remain mainly agricultural areas and that open burning of grass and pasture is an important function in maintaining these areas.”

The county is expected to discuss regulations for a variety of burning types, including burning at residences and by agricultural operators, as well as construction-related burning and recreational burning.

Today’s County Commission meeting is set to open with a work session on the topic of burn regulations. But open burning is also listed as an agenda item, meaning commissioners will likely consider taking action on the proposed recommendations.

“Open Burning” is defined by the county as burning of unwanted materials — for example “paper, trees, brush, leaves, grass, and other debris, where smoke and other emissions are released directly into the air without passing through a chimney or a stack.”  Under the proposed changes, open burning in unincorporated areas of the county would be permitted only in limited situations. Currently, individuals engaging in open burning must comply with a set of regulations that include notifying the Douglas County Communications Center “or the local fire control authority with jurisdiction over the area before the burning begins.” 

In other business, commissioners will: 

• Consider, in the consent agenda, approving liquor licenses for adult entertainment venues The Flamingo Club and Paradise Saloon.

• Hear a presentation detailing a three-year performance review of Artists Helping the Homeless. The organization opened a respite house in 2019 that has served dozens of men experiencing homelessness, and the organization’s services also include support for issues related to mental illness or substance abuse. 

The commission’s work session begins at 4 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse at 11th and Massachusetts streets. The regular meeting follows at 5:30 p.m. The meeting can be viewed via Zoom. The agenda packet can be found on the county’s website,


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