Air Quality

Current Fire Danger: VERY HIGH

Fire danger will fluctuate with weather conditions until spring green-up is complete.

Please refrain from burning at this time.

A burning permit is required on the Bad River Reservation before any burning can occur, please call a Bad River Warden.

  • Snow has rapidly melted, grass and other vegetation has not yet fully greened up. As these fuels dry out, fire danger has started to rise and will continue to do so.
  • Weather conditions can reach critical levels on days with low humidity, warm temperatures, and high winds, providing higher danger levels over short periods of time.
  • Warming, cooking, and ceremonial fires do not need a burning permit.
    • Warming and cooking fires must be extinguished upon leaving the fire.
    • Due care must be taken with warming, cooking, and ceremonial fires.
  • Last change in fire danger level status or narrative: 12 May 2021
  • Obey all restrictions in the Burn Ordinance (PDF).

As described in Chapter 367 of the Bad River Conservation Code, “all open fires and burn barrels within the exterior boundaries of the Bad River Reservation” must apply for a burning permit from the Bad River Natural Resource Department and hold the permit while the burning takes place. Please call the Bad River Natural Resource Department with any questions at (715) 682-7123 or you can reach a warden at (715) 979-1181.

Very High Fire Danger

Burning and Fire Prevention Ordinance

Open Burning, Burn Barrel, and Fire Prevention Ordinance
Chapter 376 of the Bad River Conservation Code

In 2002, Tribal Council passed the Open Burning, Burn Barrels, and Fire Prevention Ordinance, resulting in the implementation of a burn permit program. To date, burn barrels continue to be allowed on the Bad River Reservation as long as the owner or resident has a burn permit and complies with the restrictions outlined within the ordinance.

Do I need a permit?

There are exemptions for certain types of fire, listed below.

Outside of these special cases, a permit is required.

Fires Exempted from Permit Requirements

  • Ceremonial Fires– Ensure safety precautions are taken!
  • Cooking Fires– Ensure fire is extinguished before leaving!
  • Warming Fires– Ensure fire is extinguished before leaving!

Open Burning versus Burn Barrels
 There are similarities and differences between the two types of burning permits.

Open Burning PermitBurn Barrel Permit
Fee:No chargeNo charge
Applicability:Applies to every residence within the external Reservation boundaries Wisconsin DNR permit not valid on the Bad River Reservation Applies to every residence within the external Reservation boundaries Wisconsin DNR permit not valid on the Bad River Reservation
Time:Not on Sundays or holidays.

Only burn from 6:00pm-12:00am (midnight)
Not on Sundays or holidays.

Any time of day.
Conditions:Must have permit in hand during burning.

Fire must be attended to with proper tools to contain fire.

No fires allowed when winds are greater than 10 mph.
Must have permit in hand during burning.

Fire must be attended to with proper tools to contain fire.

No fires allowed when winds are greater than 10 mph.
Expires:Expires once burn is complete.
Maximum date listed on permit.
Expires May, 31st of each year.
Prohibitions:May not burn trash or recyclables.
List of 16 categories that are prohibited.

Pile(s) no larger than 5′ by 5′ by 5′ in size.
No fires within 50 feet of property lines.
May not burn trash or recyclables.
List of 16 categories that are prohibited.

Approved burn barrel.
10 foot cleared area, 25 feet from buildings.

Burning Restrictions

The permit program restricts open and barrel burning to certain times, outlines items that can be burned and ones that should not be burned and outlines guidelines that should be followed when burning such as being prepared if the fire gets out of hand (having a fire break), properly locating a barrel (10 foot clear area, also outlining minimum distances to buildings etc), restrictions on size of open burn piles, wind provisions (example: over 10mph, no burning),and time/date restrictions. 

For current restrictions, please ask the Air Quality Specialist or the Fire Warden. Current restrictions will be listed on the permit. Failure to follow restrictions will be considered a violation of the ordinance.

Prohibited Items

  • Disposable diapers
  • Oil
  • Gasoline
  • Paint
  • Plastics (including Styrofoam)
  • Recyclable materials
  • Household trash or garbage (including kitchen garbage)
  • Cardboard
  • Non-recyclable paper containing plastic, paint, or other matter which is noxious when burned
  • Dead animals not being processed or cooked as food products
  • Any material that emits dense smoke or obnoxious odors
  • Thermometers containing mercury
  • Any item known to contain mercury or lead (including batteries)
  • Tires
  • Construction/demolitions materials (including wood treated with paint, stain, chemical treatments, or other contaminants)
  • Hazardous wastes

Obtaining a Permit

Permits are free but applicants need to come in to the Bad River Natural Resource Office and fill out a permit. Once a permit is filled out, it is reviewed and signed by the Bad River Fire/Conservation Warden. Due to work schedules, administrative holidays, and staff availability, burn permits can not always be signed immediately; the permit will usually be signed within 24 hours. If the permit can not be immediately signed, Natural Resource Department staff will call when the permit is ready to be picked up from the office. Please plan ahead several days!

Required information for a burn permit:

  • Name of person responsible for burning (who will sign the permit)
  • Location of the burn (address)
  • Material to be burned
  • Quantity of material
  • Telephone number
  • Signature and date

Fire Danger Levels

Smokey Bear (at the corner of Maple Street and Highway 2) constantly displays fire danger and lets everyone know when the fire danger rises. 

When the fire danger rises to Very High or Extreme, burning is unsafe and a Reservation-wide burning ban may be issued.

Smokey’s primary concern is your safety, the safety of your home and your neighbors, and the protection of the environment. Safety first! 

Burning Bans

There are times of the year when fire danger rises, or certain weather conditions occur that make burning dangerous.  Section 8 of the Burn Ordinance allows the Bad River Fire Warden to declare a burning ban. When a burning ban occurs, posters will be displayed at the usual bulletin boards across the community and posted on the Bad River Natural Resource Department website.


Section 12 gives enforcement authority of the Burn Ordinance to the Bad River Fire Warden, Conservation Wardens, and the Bad River Police Department.

These authorities can:

  • enter private property, tribal, trust, allotted, or leased property at all times to inspect outdoor fires
  • issue immediate cease and desist orders for suspected violations or when burning appears to create an unsafe condition
  • issue citations for violations of the Burn Ordinance

Public Nuisance 

One person’s burning can affect others. If you notice someone burning in an unsafe manner, or noxious smoke creating problems, please call a Warden, listed in the box above.

Penalties for Violations

Penalties may be imposed by the Bad River Tribal Court, these penalties are outlined in section 13 of the Burn Ordinance. 

For contact information, please see the Natural Resources department contact list on the department home page.