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DEC Announces Brush Burning Prohibited
in New York State March 16 through May 14

March 12, 2019   07:00 a.m.
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    Press Release from NYS DEC:

    DEC Announces Brush Burning Prohibited in New York State March 16
    through May 14

    Burn Ban Decreases Wildfire Risks and Protects Lives and Property

    Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos
    today reminds residents that with spring approaching conditions for wildfires will
    become heightened and residential brush burning is prohibited March 16 through
    May 14 across New York State.

    "While many people associate wildfires with the western United States, the start
    of spring weather and the potential for dry conditions increases the risk for
    wildfires in New York," Commissioner Seggos said. "New York prohibits
    residential burning during the coming high-risk fire season to reduce wildfires and
    protect people, property, and natural resources. The ban has been extremely
    effective in reducing the number of wildfires, and we're encouraging New Yorkers
    to put safety first."

    Even though much of the state is currently blanketed in snow, warming
    temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise.

    DEC posts daily a fire danger rating map and forecast during fire season on its
    website and on the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App available on DEC's
    website. Currently, wildfire conditions in the state are low risk.

    Historically, open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires
    in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall's debris,
    dead grass, and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be
    further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

    New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent
    wildfires and reduce air pollution. State regulations allow residential brush fires in
    towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such
    burning in spring when most wildfires in New York occur. Since the ban was
    established, the eight-year annual average number of spring fires decreased by
    42.6 percent, from 2,649 in 2009, to 1,521 in 2018.

    Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should
    never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or
    leaves is prohibited year-round.

    Wildfires can be deadly and destructive, and the national annual cost of their
    consequences can range anywhere from $71.1 to $347.8 billion, according to
    recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Last year's Camp Fire in
    northern California destroyed the city of Paradise and killed more than 80 people,
    making it the nation's deadliest wildfire in more than a century. This year, the
    USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad
    Council are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the launch of the Smokey Bear
    Wildfire Prevention campaign, the longest-running public service advertising
    campaign in U.S. history.

    "Smokey Bear has educated generations of Americans about their role in
    preventing wildfires," Commissioner Seggos said. "Smokey's words are still an
    urgent and relevant reminder for all of us to follow-'Remember, only YOU can
    prevent forest fires."

    Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack and Catskill parks, are
    designated "fire towns." Open burning is prohibited year-round in these
    municipalities unless an individual or group has a written permit from DEC. To
    find out whether a municipality is designated a "fire town" or to obtain a permit,
    contact the appropriate DEC regional office. A list of regional offices is available
    on DEC's website.

    Violators of the state's open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and
    civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To
    report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or
    report online on DEC's website.