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New York State tightens the reins on burning regulations

JOHNSBURG - Backyard burn barrels will soon be illegal in the state of New York.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that a ban was approved Sept. 14 by state regulators and will go into effect mid-October.

The regulation will mean that open burning of residential waste will be prohibited in all communities statewide, regardless of population and with few exceptions. Previously, the ban applied only to towns with populations of 20,000 or more.

The restrictions are designed to reduce harmful air pollutants and prevent wildfires, and are an effort to "go green," according to the DEC.

In addition to barrel burning, most open fires will also be banned without a permit and municipality burning permits will expire on Oct. 1 without renewal options.

The proposal was first released in May 2008 and was met with plenty of public feedback. In an extended public comments session, approximately 1,800 comments and concerns were reviewed by the DEC.

As a result of the public comments, modifications were made to the original proposal.

The regulation bans all open burning except for the following:

• On-site burning of limbs and branches between May 15 and the following March 15 in any town with a total population less than 20,000.

• Barbecue grills, maple sugar arches and similar outdoor cooking devices.

• Small cooking and camp fires.

• On-site burning of organic agricultural wastes, but not pesticides, plastics or other non-organic material.

• Liquid petroleum fueled smudge pots to prevent frost damage to crops.

• Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires.

• Disposal of a flag or religious item.

• Burning on an emergency basis of explosive or other dangerous or contraband by police, etc.

• Prescribed burns performed according to state regulations.

• Fire training with some restrictions on the use of acquired structures.

• Individual open fires to control plant and animal disease outbreaks as approved by DEC upon the request by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.

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