Castle Valley Comments: March 12, 2020

Because of the extreme weather conditions that existed last fall, many residents were not able to do their fall burning of tree limbs and other yard debris, so many are anxious to get it done this spring. The process for obtaining a permit has changed this year. You can no longer call the Grand County Sheriff’s office to obtain permission to burn but you can go online to fill out a burn permit application.

A photo of Ron Drake
Ron Drake

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is the agency that now issues the burn permit and a link to that agency can be found on the Castle Valley Fire Department website at and the link is found at the top right of the website home page. A link for a burn permit application can also be found on the Grand County Sheriff website.

When you get to the DEQ website, scroll down to “select your county or city” to start the application process. You can also check if it is going to be a burn day by scrolling down to “check clearing index” and enlarge the map to Castle Valley and your actual street, but all of Castle Valley should be the same clearing index.

Next click “open burn permit” box and fill in the blanks. Click “next” and type your name where it says signature and type in the date. When you click next again it takes you back to the start but this is confusing because your application has been submitted and you don’t have to do anything more.

A copy of the application will be sent to the sheriff’s office and the appropriate fire chief, and a copy will be sent back to you giving you permission if the clearing index is favorable for a clean burn where the smoke rises at least 500 feet and not hover along the ground and ruin the air quality in the neighborhood and valley. You must also call the sheriff’s dispatch office when you begin to burn so they know you are burning and not send the fire department out on a false alarm. The process seems a little cumbersome now but as everyone becomes accustomed to it, it should become easier. For those who do not have computers you can call Becky Muir with the State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands at 435-259-3766 Monday through Friday and she will fill in the application for you. You can also call the Division of Air Quality at 801-536-4000 for assistance in filling out the application.

When you sign the burn permit application you are subject to the following conditions: (1) Materials must be dry and reasonably free of dirt. (2) When atmospheric conditions (clearing index of 500 or greater) indicates it is satisfactory to burn. This information can also be obtained through the Grand County Sheriff Office Dispatch at 259-4321. (3) Burning shall be done when atmospheric conditions of local circumstances make such fires hazardous; i.e. high winds, red flag, etc. (4) Burning shall be done at a distance of more than 50 feet from any building, structure or other combustibles. (5) An adequate water supply or other fire-extinguishing equipment shall be available. (6) The burning area shall be constantly attended by a competent person and shall be completely extinguished before being left, and all fires shall be completely extinguished before dark. (7) Applicants must be in legal control of the land on which the burning is to take place. There are other restrictions concerning firebreaks, notifying neighbors, and not posing a threat to forest or range lands.

The permit requires absolutely no burning of tires, oils, trash, rubbish, plastic products, coated wire, or building products. Items not grown on the property cannot be burned. Also, even though the open burn period extends until the end of May, Castle Valley Ordinance 2007-6 states that when the fire district sign at the entrance to the town is posted at “high” or above, open burning is prohibited even though the state burning window is still open.

Several notices were posted this week including an announcement that Faylene Roth has resigned her position as the clerk for the Castle Valley Planning and Land Use Commission. The town is now accepting applications for the part-time, year-round position of clerk for the PLUC. The responsibilities include meeting agenda, meeting minutes, posting public notices, processing conditional use permits, and occasional research. Time commitment is 18-22 hours per month, including attending PLUC meetings.

The town also posted a link for people interested in obtaining coronavirus updates and useful information. Go to and click the “trending” page.

Save the date of Tuesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. for the monthly Castle Valley Library program. It will be a presentation by locals Mike DeHoff, Bego Gerhart and Peter Lefebvre to learn about their investigation of historic changes in the whitewater rapids of Cataract Canyon.