Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

[Public Information Main Menu] [Oswego County Homepage]

March 11, 2010

Residential Brush Burning Prohibited March 15 - May 15

State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today reminded New Yorkers who reside in smaller communities that all residential brush burning is prohibited during the state's historically high fire risk period, March 15 - May 15.

Last year, New York toughened restrictions on open burning to reduce harmful air pollutants and help prevent wildfires (www.dec.ny.gov/press/58544.html). While the new regulation allows residential brush burning for most of the year in towns with a population of less than 20,000, it prohibits open burning in all communities during early spring when the bulk of New York's wildfires typically occur.

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. Data from DEC's Forest Protection Division show that debris burning accounted for about 40 percent of wildfires between 1986 and 2006 - more than twice the next most-cited source. In addition, from 2000 to 2007, New York's fire departments responded to an average of 2,600 wildfires each year during the period of March 15 through May 15.

"Open burning poses a significant fire risk," Commissioner Grannis said. "By banning open burning during the high fire risk period, we are taking steps to protect the health and safety of our children, our families and our natural environment."

Violators are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with penalties ranging from $375 to $15,000 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332).

A list of questions and answers on the new open burning regulation is available on DEC's web site at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58519.html.

Some towns are designated "fire towns" primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park. Under Environmental Conservation Law, open burning is prohibited in these municipalities without a written permit from DEC. To find out whether a town is a designated "Fire Town" and/or to obtain a permit, parties should contact a DEC regional office. For a list of contacts, go to: www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html.

Questions about the Oswego County Public Information Office?