the annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning will begin March 16, and run through May 14. With spring approaching, DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) is reminding residents that conditions for wildfires are heightened in springtime when most wildfires occur.
Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation. In 2020, DEC Forest Rangers extinguished 192 wildfires that burned a total of more than 1,122 acres. In addition, local fire departments, many of which are volunteer, all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal debris fires.
Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave these fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.
Forest Rangers, DEC Environmental Conservation Police, and local authorities enforce the burn ban. Violators of the State’s open burning regulation 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, or 911.