Butte County Air Quality Management District
629 Entler Avenue, Suite 15
Chico, CA 95928
(530) 332-9400

Burning FAQs

Q: Why is agricultural burning still allowed?

A: Agricultural burning helps farmers remove crop residues left in the field after harvesting grains such as rice, wheat or corn, and for orchard pruning's and removal. Burning is also helpful in removing weeds, preventing disease and controlling pests.

Q: Does burning really kill diseases in the rice fields?

A: For some crops, particularly rice, burning of straw or stubble is the most efficient and effective way to control disease. In the Sacramento Valley, rice has historically accounted for much of the local agricultural burning, with corn and wheat close behind.

Q: Why do you allow burning when the air is clean?

A: When the air is unhealthy, we do not allow burning because it will add to the unhealthy levels.

Q: Do I need a burn permit?

A: Residential burners do not need a permit through the district. However, at certain times of the year, your local fire department will require a burn permit through them, usually free. Make sure to check with your local fire department. Agricultural burners are required to have a burn permit through the District.

Q: Where do I get a burn permit?

A: You can obtain an application for a burn permit on our website under our Forms/Applications portion, or at the District office.

Q: Is it a burn day?

A: You can find this information 2 ways: 1) Call the burn status line. For residential burning (530) 332-9407; for agricultural burning (530) 332-9406; 2) visit our website home page.

Q: What time of the year can I burn? What can I burn?

 A: This information is located at the bottom portion of your burn permit.

Q: How do you determine burn day status?

A: The California Air Resources Board (CARB), determines Permissive Burn Days and the number of acres allocated for agricultural and open burning based on meteorological and air quality factors. When conditions have been met, CARB authorizes burning in the Sacramento Valley Air Basin.

The Sacramento Valley Basinwide Air Pollution Control Council, comprised of nine air districts, develops an annual Burn Plan for the Valley, subject to CARB approval. The Burn Plan specifies requirements for determining agricultural burn hours and daily, basinwide acreage allocations, commensurate with weather conditions and air quality levels.

The Butte County Air Quality Management District (BCAQMD), handles the day-to-day field operation of agricultural burning: issuing burn permits, informing growers and land managers of when and how much they can burn, conducting complaint investigations, conducting enforcement procedures in violation cases and publishing educational materials on air quality issues.

Q: What do you do when someone burns in their fireplace and won't stop?

A: The BCAQMD as no jurisdiction inside a persons home. However, you can file a complaint and the District can send a letter to that person stating the hazardous effects of burning trash.

Q: How do I file a complaint about burning/dust? Can I file an anonymous complaint?

A: Call the district and talk to the on-duty inspector to file a complaint. Anonymous complaints can be made if there is fear of retaliation, simply ask for your name to be withheld.

Read the General FAQs and the Rebates/Grants FAQs