New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) annually issues a statewide burn ban from March 16 through May 14. We know your itching to clean up your yard, but don't burn that brush yet!

The New York State annual burn ban was launched in 2009 and has successfully decreased spring wildfires by almost 50%. The DEC says:

 "To protect our communities and natural resources, New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the potential for wildfires. The burn ban has effectively reduced the number of wildfires over the last decade, and we're encouraging New Yorkers to put safety first."

Overall, springtime is a high-risk fire season. DEC will soon post a Fire Danger Map rating forecast daily for the 2021 fire season and the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App on DEC's website. Currently, fire conditions in most of the state are low risk.

The biggest cause of spring wildfires is burning debris combined with windy and dry conditions. The warm temperatures dry out last year's leaves, grass clipping, and dead branches creating the perfect setting for an out-of-control fire to spread quickly.

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According to the DEC, some communities around the Adirondack and Catskill Parks have designated "fire towns." Open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a permit from DEC.

CNY Fire Towns:

  • Hamilton County, all towns;
  • Herkimer County, the towns of Ohio, Russia, Salisbury and Webb;
  • Lewis County, the towns of Crogham, Diana, Grieg, Lyonsdale and Watson;
  • Oneida County, the towns of Forestport and Remsen;

Forest Rangers, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and local police will be actively enforcing the burn ban. Violators are subject to 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.

Towns, villages, cities, and counties can pass ordinances that are stricter than the open-fire regulations. You should check with local authorities to determine if local law requires a permit or prohibits open fires.

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