Burn Pile Management

Low Environmental Impact

Lifting and placing biomass into burn piles is an environmentally friendly method for handling unwanted trees, brush, and dead fall.

Burn piles created by bulldozing trees and brush removes the topsoil. Bulldozing is suitable for projects requiring zero biomass on the project land surface, such as building and road construction.

Farms, pastures, yards and lawns are best created and managed with topsoil retaining methods such as tree & brush mulching, tree shearing and burning, and eventually mowing.

Wood ash is an excellant source of lime, potassium and many of the trace elements that plants need to thrive. Burn piles initially leave an scarred land patch, but this patch quickly heals into a beautiful bed of native or broadcast grasses. Wood ash can be left in place or spread on pastures, lawns and gardens as a fertilizer.

Decomposing biomass results in the same atmospheric greenhouse gasses as oxidizing biomass through burning. This means that burning biomass is as environmentally friendly as allowing biomass to naturally decompose.

Burning biomass is one way to adhere to the
 BLM's Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Burn Pile Management.

Clear Land offers a burn pile management service. Clear Land is able to manage either preexisting or newly created burn piles. This burn pile management service involves several important considerations which must be understood and taken into account.


Safety is Clear Land's primary burn pile concern. Safety considerations include human safety, owner property safety, neighbor property safety, and public atmosphere safety. Clear Land uses trained personnel and proper fire management equipment and follows all outdoor burning regulations.


Each city and county in Texas is able to enact and police their own burn regulations. Please refer to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality section below.


 Place the burn pile safely far from other potential flammable biomass and structures.
●  Determine the legality of running a burn pile that day:
                - Burn ban status
                - City, county & state requirements
                 - Allowable current and forcasted wind speed and direction
                - Precipitation expectation
                - Expected burn start and end times
● Mow a grass and brush fire break around the burn pile.
● Notify local fire department of:
                - Burn address and property location
                - Property owner & phone number
                - Clear Land involvement & phone number
                - Expected start & end times
● Position fire safety equipment and personnel
● Provide safety personnel with notification information:
                - Local fire department phone number
                - Property address and burn pile position
                - Other notification information
                - Site specific emergency procedures
● Test safety equipment
● Receive from property owner authorization to proceed.
● Ignite burn pile Manage burn pile until completely out.
● Notify fire department of completion status before site departure.

Burn Pile Options

Several options for handling burn piles can be considered:    

  • When to burn biomass piles

    Outdoor burning of biomass piles must take into account forecast and current local outdoor burning regulations. Many times of the year are not conductive to running burn piles. If you need land clearing during a burn ban period, resulting burn piles must be left until burning conditions are favorable. This could be several months, in some locations, or even several years, depending, again, on location. Most locations have several windows during the year when outdoor burning of biomass is allowed.
  • Where to burn biomass piles

    There a two legal options for outdoor burning of land clearing generated biomass. The biomass can either be transported to a facility authorized to perform burning for other parties, or the biomass must be burned on the site of the land clearing. Many residential and smaller commercial lots won't have the option of running burn piles due to the danger posed to adjacent properties. Most larger residential and commercial lots as well as most farms, and ranches will be able to safely manage burn piles.

    In each case, care must be taken to select the best location on each property for burn piles. Please note that burn piles can be fairly easily and cheaply moved to a different location on the property, depending on distance. Keep in mind that, although having one central burn location is ideal, usually, for larger land clearing projects, multiple burn piles will be required due to the unwanted expense of moving biomass to a remote centralized burn pile location.
  • How to burn biomass piles

    An excellent option exists for land owners who periodically run controlled/prescribed burns for field management. Fields are sometimes burned under controlled conditions in order to clear fields for planting of other species, or to reduce fuel buildup for uncontrolled wildfire prevention. It is much safer and cheaper to run burn piles within controlled burn areas when those piles are far from the burn area's perimeter. In those cases the chance of a burn pile igniting surrounding grass and bush is gone because it's all just been burned off around the piles. In fact, the piles will usually ignite from the controlled fire, so this must be taken into account when locating burn piles. Controlled/prescribed burn areas should be designed with planned or existing burn piles taken into consideration. Burn piles take many hours to die out. More burn piles than can be safely managed by available experienced personnel should not be ignited.

    Most land owners do not run controlled/prescribed burns for field management, and for them other options must be considered. In these cases burn piles are preferably run one at a time, as a safety precaution.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Each city and county in Texas is able to enact and police their own burn regulations. Each civil entity and citizen must adhere to Texas's Outdoor Burning Rule, 30 TAC 111.201-221. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality manages outdoor burning and provides an Outdoor Burning in Texas Field Operations guide. This legislation controls outdoor Fires for Disposal or Land Clearing in Texas, including On-site burning of waste plant growth, which covers Clear Land's burn pile management service offering:

On-site burning of waste plant growth. Trees, brush, grass, leaves, branch trimmings, or other plant growth may be burned on the property on which the material grew in most attainment counties, as described below. In all cases, the plant growth must be burned by the property owner or any other person authorized by the owner.
• All designated nonattainment counties and some attainment counties. Burning of waste plant growth is allowed only if the material was generated as a result of right-ofway maintenance, land clearing, or maintenance along water canals, and no practical alternative to burning exists. “Practical alternative” is defined as ‘an economically, technologically, ecologically, and logistically viable option.’ See Appendix D. Burning carried out under this exception must conform to all the general requirements for outdoor burning.
• Most attainment counties. Burning of waste plant growth is allowed regardless of the activity that generated the material. Practical alternatives need not be considered. Burning carried out under this exception must conform to some of the general requirements for outdoor burning, specifically the requirements in 30 TAC 111.219 (3,4, 6, 7) (see Appendix C). Such burning is also subject to local ordinances that prohibit burning within the corporate limits of a city or town. Some attainment counties are treated as nonattainment counties for the purposes of this exception. Specifically, any attainment county that contains any part of a municipality that extends into a bordering nonattainment county is treated as a nonattainment county for the purposes of this exception.
To determine if your county is an attainment or a nonattainment county for the purposes of this exception, call your regional TCEQ office. TCEQ regional-office phone numbers appear in Appendix B.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also manages a Northeast Texas: Current Attainment Status website which provide a listing of designations and classifications for current, active National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) by county. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also provides a TCEQ e-Services website of online options for reporting, registering, and applying for permits and licenses—plus paying fees and other assessments, and filing documents and commenting on commission matters.

Pleae call Clear Land at (469) 636-9492 to discuss burn pile Permitting, licensing, Reporting, and any other questions you may have.