Local officials upset over new ban on brush burning

ALBANY - Next week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will no longer allow municipalities to burn brush, and officials of towns in the Adirondacks are angry that the prohibition might cause public safety and environmental problems.

Leaders of Essex and Warren counties and representatives of Adirondack town governments voted Wednesday in protest of the DEC's refusal to renew permits for towns to burn brush at their landfills beginning Oct. 1.

DEC's blanket prohibition of burning brush at all landfills is effective Oct. 14, and several area towns, including Johnsburg, and Chester, have decided to quit accepting it. Other municipalities, including Bolton and Chester, are deciding this week how to respond to the new policy. Lake George and Warrensburg are at least temporarily continuing to accept brush.

The unanimous vote protesting the no-burn policy occurred at the Adirondack Park Agency Local Government Review Board meeting in Johnsburg.

Cathy Moses and Fred Monroe, top elected leaders of Essex and Warren counties respectively, voted for the resolution requesting that DEC continue to allow burning of brush up to 6" in diameter that local residents deposit at landfills.

Recently revised DEC regulations prohibit the municipal burning, but these rules allow towns to issue individual permits to residents of towns with less than 20,000 residents.

Moses said that prohibiting towns from centralized burning at a safe, monitored site while allowing individual permits to be issued boosts the danger of wildfires while likely causing the degradation of air quality. She serves as chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.

"This new regulation is insane -- allowing residents to burn but not allowing town employees to burn brush under a controlled situation at landfills just doesn't make sense," she said.

Fred Monroe, Moses' counterpart in Warren County, said that the new regulation was illogical and would place yet another burden on Adirondack towns in processing and disposing of brush residents take to local landfills.

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