NYLON – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) strongly advises against any open burning, which is prohibited by law until May, because most of New York State is currently at high risk of fire due to environmental conditions.
According to a press release from the DEC, fire conditions across most of the state are high risk, and all areas of residential brush burning is prohibited through May 14.
“Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in the state,” said the DEC in the press release. “When temperatures increase and the past year’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.”
DEC posts a fire danger rating forecast map on a daily basis here.
New York enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce emissions. The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur. In the five-year period since the ban was enacted, the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 33.4 percent, from 3,297 in 2009 to 1,649 to 2015.
The DEC also urges citizens to employ alternatives to burning brush, like chipping wood and downed branches for use as mulch and composting yard waste, leaves and plant clippings for use in gardens.
Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave fires unattended and must completely extinguish them before leaving the area. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.
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 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report one online here.
NYLON is the New York Local Online News section of the GeneseeSun.com, dedicated to uniting communities outside of Livingston County.