Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reminded the public that with spring approaching and conditions for wildfires heightened, residential brush burning is prohibited through May 14th across New York State.
Even though much of the state is currently blanketed in snow, warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise.
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.
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.
In the eight-year period since the ban was established, the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 36.7 percent, from 2,649 in 2009, to 1,677 in 2016.
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.
In the Adirondack Park open burning is prohibited year-round without a written permit from 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.
Photo: Fire burning in pine trees, courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center.