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The annual backyard burn season, during which the residential burning of dry yard trimming is permitted — with some restrictions — begins in San Benito County and throughout the tri-county region on Dec. 1 and runs through April 30, 2016.

Here are the details from an announcement by the Monterey Unified Air Pollution Control District:

The burning of garbage and treated wood is strictly prohibited at all times. The following describes the requirements for backyard burning. District-Wide Requirements (Not Including Smoke Sensitive Areas)

  • Backyard burn permits issued by the Air District are required for all residential backyard burning except in areas where fire districts issue burn permits. Free burn permits can be obtained online via the Air District’s website at If a resident does not have access to a computer, please call the Air District during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m., Monday through Friday at (831) 647-9411.
  • Backyard burning is prohibited on parcels less than a half acre except in areas where yard waste pick-up is not available. A waiver from the parcel size requirement may be granted at the discretion of the Air District.
  • Backyard burn piles must be located 100 feet from any structure on an adjacent property. A waiver from this requirement may be granted at the discretion of the Air District.

Burning Causes Smoke Impacts

Smoke from burning dry vegetation is a significant source of air pollution. Fine particles in smoke are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. Air contaminants in smoke include volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, fine particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. If not carefully managed, smoke can cause a nuisance to neighbors and can impact the health of the community. Backyard burning is particularly significant because it releases pollutants at ground level where they are easily inhaled.

Alternatives to backyard burning include chipping, composting, and taking yard waste to your local landfill or transfer station. Learn more at, go to Programs and select Smoke Management. If you have questions, contact the District at (831) 647-9411.