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

March 11, 2020   07:45 p.m.
    Press Release from NYS DEC:

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

    Annual Burn Ban Has Decreased Spring Wildfires 42.6 Percent Since 2009

    Ban Reduces Wildfire Risks, Protects Lives and Property

    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
    Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a statewide ban prohibiting
    residential brush burning will begin March 16 and run through May 14. With
    spring approaching, DEC is reminding residents that conditions for wildfires are
    heightened in springtime when most wildfires occur.

    "While many associate wildfires with the western United States, the start of
    spring weather and the potential for dry conditions increase the risk for wildfires
    in New York," Commissioner Seggos said. "To protect our communities and
    natural resources, New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire
    season to reduce the potential for wildfires. The burn ban has effectively reduced
    the number of wildfires over the last decade, and we're encouraging New
    Yorkers to put safety first."

    Even though areas of the state remain blanketed in snow, warming temperatures
    can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise. DEC will post a Fire Danger Map
    rating forecast daily for the 2020 fire season and the NY Fishing, Hunting &
    Wildlife App, on DEC's website. Currently, fire conditions in most of the state are
    low risk.

    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 and leaves dry
    out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a
    lack of green vegetation.

    Every spring as the snow melts and vegetation dries out, New York's partnering
    local responders all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to
    wildfires caused by illegal spring debris fires. DEC Forest Rangers respond to
    and assist local agencies with the larger and more remote fires. Complying with
    the burn ban prevents unnecessary burdens on and dangers to state resources
    and local responders.

    New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent
    wildfires and reduce air pollution. The 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 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. For more information about fire safety and
    prevention, go to DEC's FIREWISE New York website.

    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 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.

    Forest Rangers, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), and
    local authorities will be enforcing the burn ban. 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.

    DEC's Forest Rangers prepare in a variety of ways for wildland fire response.
    Last June, DEC and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
    (DHSES) conducted a multi-agency tabletop training exercise on Long Island that
    helped prepare local, state, and federal agencies for a rapid response in the
    event of a fire in the Central Pine Barrens, the expansive 100,000-acre
    ecosystem that is Long Island's largest natural area. Prescribed fire is also a tool
    regularly used to manage fire-dependent ecosystems like the Pine Barrens and
    the Albany Pine Bush Preserve in a manner that develops a resilient natural
    balance of fire in the desired vegetation.