Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Observing the Annual Spring Burn Ban through May 14

A pile of burning brush

The NYS DEC is once again enforcing the annual burn ban from March 16 through May 14. During this time, NYS is especially vulnerable to wildfires, with nearly half of all serious wildfires happening in the spring. As the snow melts to reveal fall’s dry leaves and downed branches, warm temperatures, and low humidity increase the risk of fires spreading. The annual burn ban temporarily prohibits burning residential brush to reduce the risk of wildfires across the state.

Not all fires are banned from March 16 through May 14, though. Fires used for cooking and camping are allowed if they are fueled by charcoal or untreated wood. Check your local regulations before starting any fire, as rules can differ from community to community.

In NYS, 95-percent of wildfires are caused by human activity. Take steps to create a safer campfire by avoiding burning on windy days and keeping water or an extinguisher nearby. Also, be mindful that fires should never be left unattended and should be fully extinguished when done. Burning trash and downed leaves are never allowed in NYS at any time of the year.

Since the annual burn ban started in 2009, wildfires have decreased by 46-percent. By abiding by fire safety laws, New Yorkers are protecting our land, air, and each other.

Photo at top: A pile of burning brush. NYS DEC photo.


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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

24 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Shouldn’t this run longer up North? The state is a lot different from way north to way south. In a normal winter you might even still have some snow in the woods up north on May 14. Especially in places like the high peaks.

  2. Rob says:

    Glad this doesn’t impact my weekly campfires.

  3. Nathan says:

    give them time rob. NYS wants to penalize everyone when a few people are foolish and oblivious to outdoor life. Been burning small piles of brush and leaves from trees for 45 years. don’t need some wet behind the ears ranger telling me no can’t burn a small pile while sitting in chair beside fire with a garden hose and a beer, slowly adding and enjoying the smoke and crackle. punish foolish people not everyone for a few!
    soon they will ban all fires as air pollution, then gas stoves and soon all electric everything with foolish things like electric riding mower with $400 batteries every 2-3 years when in 20 years i would never use that in gasoline? where is the sense when it makes more pollution to make 1 battery>>?

    • Bill Keller says:

      In NYS, 95-percent of wildfires are caused by human activity. So for two months you can’t burn brush, you can burn the other 10 months. These two months have been proven, with data, to have increased fire risk. Your opinion is just that, an opinion. Doesn’t make it factual. Myth: Electric vehicles are worse for the climate than gasoline cars because of battery manufacturing. FACT: The greenhouse gas emissions associated with an electric vehicle over its lifetime are typically lower than those from an average gasoline-powered vehicle, even when accounting for manufacturing. These are facts supported by real data not opinion.

      • nathan says:

        Right drink that Kool-Aid, the batteries, the much more needed powerlines best estimate is 6 times more power lines, service crews and millions more drawing on the power grid. stop gap at best, need better reactors and more localized to power millions of battery cars/truck/semi-trucks and ways to recycle all those batteries efficiently. Don’t show your truly limited knowledge and ignorance on the subject, research and learn real facts~ not-stop gap quick fixes. Then solar panel recycling, another nightmare of mostly grind up and landfill.

  4. geogymn says:

    I find it a bit irritating that the State can burn certain parcels of land for conservation purposes ( which I applaud ) but as a private land owner I’m not allowed. How come I can’t take care of my land?

    • Boreas says:


      Interesting question. Have you asked DEC if perhaps they can sanction a burn on your property with their supervision? It could perhaps be part of a training exercise including fire fighting services.

  5. louis curth says:

    This time of year always conjures up endless memories for me of long ago fire seasons that began with my initiation into “rangerhood” in the Glens Falls area which was literally a trial by fire back in the 1960s. And yes, Nathan, one elderly resident did ask me how I could be a ranger when I didn’t even look dry behind the years? Some things never change I guess.

    In my first year as a ranger, the fires began in March and they just got bigger and more numerous as the year progressed. We had active fire towers with dedicated observers who were our eyes and our communications link to get help when we needed it, but as my esteemed fellow retired ranger Gary Lee would say, “that’s another story”.

    • nathan says:

      😉 liked, never burn if really dry or windy, keep it small, keep water handy. but i’ve seen fools burn brush with 20-30 mile winds and watch a few sheds and barns burn. Just can’t fix stupid, but to punish all for a few? always government answer to generate funds and not really fix anything, stupid will still burn the barn!

  6. Rob says:

    Burn in moderation. No need to have a 15×20 foot pile of stuff to burn all at once.

    • nathan says:

      if clearing a big area it can get big fast, but those i burn in a snow storm or rain, then after push remains and reburn tiny pile.

  7. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Nathan says: “Been burning small piles of brush and leaves from trees for 45 years. don’t need some wet behind the ears ranger telling me no can’t burn a small pile while sitting in chair beside fire with a garden hose and a beer, slowly adding and enjoying the smoke and crackle. punish foolish people not everyone for a few!”

    It has nothing to do with you personally as it does for the greater good of the forests which may surround you Nathan, or are nearby. It is true that this time of year the risk is greater for wildfires (many of them caused by humans) and how is prevention supposed to be effective if the state says everyone but ‘special’ you can burn while everyone else cannot! All’s it takes is one spark to rise up and drift away then settle down on a dry patch of leaves in the woods and poof…..we have ourselves a conflagration all over again thanks to another human. It happens not as infrequently as you might guess. It had been a problem in California for a stretch, and even here in New York there is recorded history of great fires in the Adirondacks due to a spark. And though that spark may have been from a passing train, a spark is a spark, a forest fire is a forest fire………..

    Nobody likes to be told what to do Nathan. You have your rights sure, but to think you don’t have responsibilities! This is a thing which is very prevalent nowadays and look where we are! Need I explain?

  8. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “No need to have a 15×20 foot pile of stuff to burn all at once.’

    Which brings to mind! Every time I see one of these heaped-up piles of limbs and whatever else is up for a burn, a sadness comes over me. I see them in my drives, especially in the more rural parts, them heaps piling up over weeks, maybe even months in some cases, until the ‘great fire.’ In the meanwhile the critters come out at night, or in daylight hours, and find a haven amidst the woody waste, or beneath…. snakes, lizards, insects… who knows what other living thing might come along and find a haven neath that heap! Who knows how many lifeforms suffer a horrible fiery death due to this tradition! We don’t realize the unseen damage we bring to pass due to many of our actions!

    • Rob says:

      Yeah the little critters love to get in those wood piles. I can do without the snakes though. One reason I wish I lived in a real cold place year round so I wouldn’t have to deal with them.

      • nathan says:

        agree i put 90% of brush along edges of fields and hedge rows for rabbit cover and little critters to get away from coyotes

        • Rob says:

          That makes great rabbit habitat. Will benefit you during hunting season for rabbits for sure. And if it ends up attracting coyotes and you can thins few of them out it is a bonus.

  9. JT says:

    I remember back in the 90’s during my time as a volunteer fire fighter, and before the mandatory burn ban, it was normal to have 30 to 50 calls to go put out grass fires in the spring time. In the St.Lawrence County, agricultural areas everyone had to burn off their fields. All too often, the fires would get out of control and threaten structures, or get into woodlands. This put a strain on the departments. Once the burn ban went into effect, cannot remember what year it was, grass fires were reduced to one or two calls per season. For this reason, the burn ban is a good thing.

  10. BJ Reynolds says:

    And when we SEE someone with an unsafe fire, what are we supposed to do? I live in an area with many white pines. Many neighbors are not locals, and don’t know/care about burn bans.

    • Rob says:

      What is an unusual fire?? How are your neighbors not locals?? From the city or out of town visiting their 2nd home?? If they are having a huge fire where they are burning brush call the state forest rangers. If they are sitting around a campfire do nothing. They are not banned

      • nathan says:

        forest ranger, encon officer, local fire dept, even 911. and i know what you mean, city people who move into the area and are clueless, burn barrels full of plastic, garbage because they refuse to pay recycling center, called on one burning 5-6 tires in brush pile, looked like storm cloud of black sooty smoke

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