A statewide brush burning ban is in effect through May 14, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens reminded New Yorkers in a media release issued last week.
“This time of year has the most risk of fires, and the risk is even greater this year because of the extremely mild winter we’ve seen across the state,” Martens said in the release. “Since the open burning regulation passed in 2009, there have been fewer fires reported in New York state. In an effort to protect the health and safety of our children, families and our natural environment, we remind residents that brush burning is banned statewide beginning this week.”
The ban, which began Saturday, targets towns with populations of 20,000 or less, where residential brush burning is allowed during the rest of the year. This includes all towns in Chenango, Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties. The state regulation prohibits the burning of garbage at all times and in all places.
According to the release, several factors enable wildfires to start easily and spread quickly at this time, including the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind. Open burning is the largest single cause of wildfires in New York state. Officials reported that wildfire dropped by more than 25 percent during the burn ban period in 2010 and 2011 compared to the previous 10 years.
Violators of the open burning state 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 (800) 847-7332, or report online on DEC’s website, www.dec.ny.gov. A list of questions and answers on the open burning regulation is also available online.