Minnesota Department of Transportation

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MnDOT Policies

Prescribed Burn

MnDOT Policy #OE001
Revised: August 17, 2021

View/print signed policy (PDF)

MnDOT Prescribed Burn Procedures

Please go to the MnDOT Org Chart to find specific contact information: Org Chart.

Responsible Senior Officer: Deputy Commissioner/Chief Engineer
Policy Owner: Director, Office of Environmental Stewardship
Policy Contact: Roadside Vegetation Specialist

Policy statement

This policy sets forth the requirements of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for the use of prescribed burning to ensure safe, professional, and beneficial use, and to manage the inherent risks.

The use of prescribed burning accomplishes specific vegetation management objectives and optimizes the efficiency and effectiveness of other vegetation management techniques. Prescribed burns may be used to manage vegetation on all MnDOT land including roadsides, safety rest areas, stormwater retention ponds, wetland mitigation ponds, and around MnDOT buildings as appropriate.

MnDOT’s use of prescribed burning must comply with the MnDOT Prescribed Burn Procedures, and the procedures, qualifications, and standards for training and employee safety provided in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) Operational Order #47 and the MN DNR Prescribed Burn Handbook. When the MN DNR operational order refers to administrative or organizational structures specific to the MN DNR, MnDOT will mirror the structures to the extent practical within the MnDOT organizational structure.

MnDOT is committed to the interagency collaboration that is necessary to run a prescribed burn program. MnDOT’s prescribed burn crews will be available for interagency cooperation on wildfires and prescribed burns. MnDOT will, in turn, rely on these agencies for training and assistance on some of its own prescribed burns.

Requirements for the prescribed burns in Indian Country may differ. Consult with the MnDOT Office of Environmental Stewardship, Roadside Vegetation Management Unit Supervisor, to determine current, approved procedures for prescribed burns in Indian Country.

Reason for policy

Prescribed burns are an important part of integrated vegetation management that meets the needs described below. Prescribed burning improves the growth of native vegetation that can out-compete weeds, compliments the use of mowing and herbicides, and is an effective brush control technique. Adherence to best practices reduces risks in the use of prescribed burning.

Vegetation management is an important component of MnDOT operations. The management of roadside vegetation provides a safe clear zone for traveling vehicles and protects the infrastructure by allowing for drainage and controlling erosion.

Vegetation may be managed for other purposes such as treatment of stormwater runoff, control of blowing and drifting snow, weed control, and aesthetics, as well as wildlife habitat, wetland mitigation, preservation of native plant communities and rare species, carbon sequestration, and production of biomass fuels where appropriate. MnDOT is required by Minnesota Statutes §160.23 to control noxious weeds on its right-of-way.

MnDOT is also required under Minnesota Statutes §18B.063 to “use integrated pest management techniques in its management of public lands, including roadside rights-of-way,” and to “use vegetation that minimizes the need for pesticides and added nutrients.” To accomplish these objectives, MnDOT uses a variety of tools and techniques to manage for appropriate vegetation, including the use of prescribed burning.

Applicability

All MnDOT employees must comply with MnDOT policies. Contractors hired to conduct prescribed burns on MnDOT land must comply with this policy.

Key stakeholders with responsibilities under this policy include:

  • Prescribed Burn Program Coordinator
  • District Burn Boss
  • District Burn Coordinator
  • Prescribed Burn Crew Members

Definitions

Indian Country

As defined in 18 United States Code section 1151, Indian country includes reservations, allotments, and dependent Indian communities. Indian country may include off-reservation land. 

Note: See the Indian Country Guidance and the MnDOT Tribal Map Application for additional information.

Prescribed Burn

A fire ignited on a defined area of land under certain, pre-determined conditions to meet specific objectives related to vegetation management.

Complexity Rating

The degree of difficulty of a prescribed burn determined by evaluation of the proposed burn by following the process described in the Prescribed Fire Summary and Final Complexity Worksheet (PMS 424-1),  created by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, an organization that sets national standards for wildland firefighting and prescribed burning.

Responsibilities

Prescribed Burn Program Supervisor

  • Approve, sign, and store burn plans prepared by district Burn Bosses or Burn Coordinators prior to plan implementation or delegate this responsibility to a qualified individual with the approval of the respective office or district.

Prescribed Burn Program Coordinator

  • Determine MnDOT standards for prescribed burn activity.
  • Ensure compliance with prescribed burn standards.
  • Certify qualifications of burn crew personnel. Obtain assistance from the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) when certifying higher-level positions.
  • Provide technical support to new and established burn crews.
  • Coordinate training and continuing education for prescribed burn crews.
  • Coordinate opportunities for interagency collaboration with burn crews.
  • Collaborate with other agencies on statewide prescribed burn issues, including serving as an active member on the Minnesota Prescribed Burn Committee and the Minnesota Prescribed Fire Council, if invited.
  • Obtain required permits for prescribed burns.
  • Approve burn plans for MnDOT prescribed burns conducted by a contractor before the fire is ignited.

District Burn Boss

  • Achieve and maintain qualification as a Minnesota Burn Boss Type 3 or higher.
  • Coordinate prescribed burn activity at the district level. Prioritize sites for burns in conjunction with roadside vegetation manager.
  • Prepare burn plans and perform advanced planning and site prep to be able to burn on short notice when the weather allows.
  • Obtain required permits for prescribed burns.
  • Lead prescribed burn crew on prescribed burns.
  • Conduct prescribed burns to meet vegetation management objectives.
  • Ensure compliance with prescribed burn policy.
  • Attend annual training to maintain qualifications.
  • Collaborate with and assist other agencies on burn activities and issues.

District Burn Coordinator

This position is for districts without a qualified burn boss or burn crew, but with a need for prescribed burning. This person should be someone involved in vegetation management, such as the district roadside vegetation manager.

  • Coordinate prescribed burn activity at the district level. Prioritize sites for prescribed burns and prepare burn plans.
  • Coordinate and implement prescribed burns with the assistance of crews from other districts or a central MnDOT burn crew, by hiring contractors, or by collaborating with interagency burn crews.

Prescribed Burn Crew members

  • Maintain qualifications as Wildland Firefighter Type 2 or higher.
  • Conduct prescribed burns under the leadership of the Burn Boss.
  • Be available to burn on short notice when the weather allows.
  • Attend annual training to maintain qualifications.
  • Assist other agencies on burn activities.

Policy Owner (Director, Office of Environmental Stewardship)

  • Review policy every two years, or sooner as necessary, to ensure policy remains up-to-date.
  • Ensure procedures and training associated with the policy remain current.
  • Work with Policy Coordinator to revise policy and/or confirm its accuracy.
  • Communicate policy revisions, reviews, and retirements to stakeholders.

Resources and related information

Forms

Processes, Procedures, and Instructions

Resources

History and updates

Adopted

August 8, 2012

Revised

  • First Revision: December 10, 2014
  • Second Revision: August 17, 2021 (also renumbered as #OE001)

Policy Review

This policy's next scheduled review is due August 2023.