Open burning banned due to fire danger

Open burning of brush or anything else is banned for the next two months because of fire danger, sta

Open burning of brush or anything else is banned for the next two months because of fire danger, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said Wednesday.

The statewide ban went into effect Wednesday and runs through May 14.

Regulations established in 2009 banned burning even in communities of less than 20,000, where it had previously been allowed. The goal is to reduce harmful air pollutants and prevent accidental grass, brush, and other wildfires.

“It’s our responsibility to protect the health and safety of our children, families and our natural environment, therefore, we remind all New Yorkers that this is a time of risk and the statewide ban is now in effect through mid-May,” Martens said in a statement.

Current regulations allow residential brush burning for most of the year in towns with a population of less than 20,000; they prohibit open burning during early spring when the bulk of New York’s wildfires occur.

Open burning is the largest single cause of wildfires in New York, according to DEC officials, accounting for 40 percent of wildfires between 1996 and 2006.

There have been an average of 2,600 wildfires each year between mid-March and mid-May.

Contributing factors can include the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind.

Last year, the first year the new ban was in effect, wildfires declined by 33 percent, according to forest ranger data compiled by DEC.

Residents of some towns in the Adirondacks and Catskills are allowed to burn brush with a DEC permit, but burning trash is prohibited throughout the state at all times.

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil actions, with a minimum fine of $375 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online at

Questions and answers about the burn ban are also posted on the DEC website.

Categories: Schenectady County

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