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Burn ban effective, March 16 to May 14

— A state-wide burn ban is effective from March 16 through May 14, announced the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warm temperatures and wind make spring a high-risk season for wildfires. Debris burning accounted for about 36 percent of wildfires between 1985 and 2009, making it the largest single cause of wildfires in New York state. Forty-six percent of wildfires in the state happen between March 16 and May 14.

In 2009, New York toughened restrictions on open burning to reduce air pollutants and prevent wildfires. The burn ban regulation allows brush burning for most of the year in towns smaller than 20,000 residents, but it prohibits open burning in early spring when most wildfires typically occur. The state regulation prohibits the burning of garbage at all times and in all places.

Some towns are designated "fire towns" primarily in and around the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park. Open burning is prohibited at all times in these municipalities without a written permit from DEC. To find out whether a town is a designated "fire town" or to obtain a permit, parties should contact a DEC regional office.

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to 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 the DEC's website.

Find more information and frequently asked questions at dec.ny.gov.

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