By Mike Kruzman /

Leaves are changing colors and falling from trees, and with that, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is sharing three ways for Livingston County residents to deal with those leaves on the lawn.

Peak fall color is in the Upper Peninsula and rapidly spreading south. The DNR is reminding local residents that if they want to burn those leaves, to check for a burn permit first, know the local fire ordinances, and make sure conditions are safe. Debris burning is the number cause of wildfire in the state, which leads DNR Fire Prevention Specialist Paul Rogers to remind residents to always have a water source nearby and to never leave a fire unattended.

More information on burning can be found at Find out whether burning is allowed by either contacting your local fire department or by calling 1(866)922-BURN. Any further questions can be directed to Rogers at 1(616)260-8406.

Another option is to collect the leaves in a compost bin and let nature take care of them. For those with a green thumb, those leaves will break down into soil perfect for spring tilling and planting.

The third option from the DNR is to simply leave them where they fall. The leaf layer is a critical part of the ecosystem where small animals like chipmunks, wood frogs, box turtles and other small wildlife live.

Alternatively, residents can shred them with a lawnmower for mulch or rake them into a garden bed to insulate perennials.

(Photo: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)