File Photo – Open Burning | Photo: Mass.gov

The Lake County Board voted this past week to implement restrictions on opening burning within unincorporated areas of Lake County, including a ban on burning certain yard waste.

The Lake County Board voted on Tuesday to enact the burning restrictions.

Franchise waste hauler agreements to provide consolidated waste hauling services in unincorporated areas within certain townships were also approved.

The new open burning restrictions and waste hauling agreements go into effect on June 1.

Burning non-wood yard waste, such as leaves, is prohibited under the new restrictions.

Burning wood yard waste is allowed annually between November 1 through March 31.

Wood yard waste generally consists of sticks, branches and tree limbs.

Recreational wood-burning fires that are no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’ are permitted year-round if used for warming, cooking and other recreational purposes.

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“Exposure to smoke from open burning can increase serious health consequences for everyone,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart.

“Smoke in our air does not stop at property boundaries. It impacts the entire community,” Hart said.

The approved consolidated waste hauler agreements are for garbage, recycling and yard waste pickup services within certain unincorporated areas.

Groot Recycling & Waste will provide service to the northern half of unincorporated Lake County and Lakeshore Recycling Systems will provide service to the southern half of unincorporated Lake County.

Neighborhood associations with pre-existing waste contracts and the franchised townships of Avon, Ela, Fremont, Lake Villa, Shields, and Warren are not affected by the waste hauler agreements.

“Franchising for consolidated waste hauling provides residents with competitive pricing for service and significantly reduces truck traffic, emissions and road impacts,” said Bill Durkin, Lake County Public Works, Planning and Transportation Committee Chair.

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“Property owners will receive waste and recycling services and will have the option of adding yard waste pick up as well,” Durkin said.

In 2019, the Lake County Energy and Environment Committee began discussing the topic over concerns of the health impacts related to open burning.

Tuesday’s approval was the last step in the process that took place following three years of discussion by multiple Lake County Board committees.

“Lake County was the only county in the region which did not place restrictions on the open burning of yard waste through its unincorporated areas,” said Terry Wilke, Lake County Energy and Environment Committee Chair.

“I thank the staff and my fellow colleagues for the endless amount of hours they spent updating our ordinance to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents for years to come,” Wilke said.