Temporary Open Burning Restrictions in Unincorporated Lake County

The Lake County Board recently voted to amend a temporary emergency ordinance that allows open burning on all properties in unincorporated Lake County from sunrise to sunset only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The ordinance also allows open burning from sunrise to sunset on any day of the week if the burning occurs at least 500 feet from the nearest habitable structure and has exemptions for prescribed habitat and ecological landscape burns. The ordinance is effective through June 9, 2021.

Per Section 307.5 of the 2012 International Fire Code, all fires must be attended and there must be an extinguishing device immediately available, such as a hose with running water.


Recreational fires that are no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’ used for warming, cooking, and other recreational purposes are still permitted on all days of the week. Burning garbage, refuse, or construction materials remains prohibited.

Fire Pit
Burning Leaves

Why was the ordinance put in place?

The County Board first adopted the Lake County Temporary Emergency Public Nuisance Ordinance to enact a temporary ban on open burning of specified landscape waste in the unincorporated area on May 12, 2020 in recognition of the increased risk of negative health impacts from open burning on individuals infected with COVID-19. This ordinance was subsequently extended by the County Board on several occasions, and most recently expired on December 31, 2020. In anticipation of the spring 2021 landscape waste burning season and in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Lake County Board acted on March 9, 2021 to reinstate temporary restrictions on open burning of landscape waste in the unincorporated areas.

How will the temporary ordinance be enforced?

Not adhering to the temporary ordinance can result in a violation of the Lake County Temporary Emergency Nuisance Ordinance.

To report an open burning violation occurring in the unincorporated area, please call the Lake County Open Burning Hotline at 847-377-2999.

Have the address, specific location or Property Index Number (PIN), if available, of the property where the violation is occurring so that Lake County may follow up on the complaint in a time-efficient manner.

Please note, some unincorporated areas are also subject to their local fire protection district's restrictions on open burning. Residents should contact their fire district for more details on applicable regulations. Residents can see who their fire protection district is and if they reside in a village/city or unincorporated Lake County by searching their address using the County's Maps Online tool.

Alternatives to burning yard waste

Did you know that there are alternatives to burning yard waste that can have positive impacts on the areas surrounding your home? 


You can mulch leaves and grass clippings right where they are, as most mowers have mulching capabilities. Use the leaves on your garden or landscaped areas, around trees, or leave both the mulched leaves and grass on your lawn. This can improve soil, suppress weeds the following season by as much as 80 percent, aid trees and regulate moisture, and provide food for critters such as turtles, toads and birds.

Lawnmower Mulching


Consider composting! It’s easy and the rewards are tremendous. Leaves and other yard material are some of the building blocks for good compost. Visit the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County’s website for helpful tips to start composting in and around our home.


Yard Waste Pick-Up Programs

Avon, Ela, Fremont, Lake Villa, Shields, and Warren townships offer yard waste pick-up programs. Those living in other townships can contact their waste hauler to see if they offer a yard waste pick-up service in their area.

  • Advanced Disposal Services: 847-623-3870
  • Groot Industries: 847-693-2700
  • Lakeshore Recycling Services: 773-685-8811
  • Lakes Disposal Services: 847-366-8582
  • Prairieland Disposal and Recycling: 847-381-9300
  • Waste Management: 800-796-9696