NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding New York residents of the annual residential brush burn ban.

The ban will be in effect from March 16 until May 14 throughout New York state. The goal of the ban is to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires each spring. 

According to the DEC, the open burning of debris is the single-largest cause of spring wildfires in New York State. As temperatures begin to warm, leaves from the fall begin to dry out which can contribute to wildfires’ ability to start and spread. The DEC warned that winds and green vegetation can further fuel the fires.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said it’s important that New Yorkers respect the ban to avoid wildfires throughout the spring season.

“The start of spring in New York comes with an increased risk of wildfires,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Starting March 16 and ending May 14, New York State prohibits residential brush burning to protect our communities and our natural resources. Since 2009, New York’s burn ban has reduced the number of wildfires in our communities and we’re looking forward to continuing that trend in 2022.” 

However, backyard fire pits and campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width, or diameter are allowed. Additionally, small cooking fires are allowed and charcoal or dry, clean, untreated, or unpainted wood can be burned. Individuals should never leave these fires unattended and must extinguish them before leaving.

The department also reminded residents that burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round. Additionally, burning is prohibited year-round in “fire towns‘ which are located primarily around the Adirondack and Catskill parks. Only those with a permit from the DEC will be allowed to burn in those designated areas.

Forest Rangers, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, and local authorities will 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.

The annual prohibition of brush burning was first enforced in 2009 and has been an annual occurrence every year since. A Fire Danger Map for the 2022 fire season will be available on DEC’s website once there is a moderate risk anywhere in New York.