DEC amends burn ban proposal

New York State officials will be loosening the restrictions in a proposal to ban open burning in rural areas after they received thousands of comments.

The Department of Environmental Conservation announced last year plans to ban outdoor burning as a mean of disposal for brush and household waste in rural communities with populations of less than 20,000. After drawing fire from the agricultural community, the DEC will not be seeking to ban the burning of downed limbs and trees less than six inches in diameter and eight feet in length between May 15 and March 15.

We're trying to address the general public's concern while maintaining the overall goal of maintaining air quality, said DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino.

Agricultural burning of vines, leaves and branches would be allowed under the ban, as well small cooking and camp fires.

The ban was proposed as a way of limiting air pollution caused by the burning of garbage. The DEC says that burning of household garbage"which would still be prohibited under the proposal"releases a litany of pollutants and dioxins into the atmosphere and onto neighboring properties.

Additionally, debris burning accounted for 40 percent of wildfires triggered between 1986 and 2006, according to the DEC. Officials hope banning burning during the month of April will cut down on this danger.

About 850 towns in New York would be affected by the burn ban, including the towns of Ballston, Malta and Milton. Open burns are already restricted in municipalities with a population of more than 20,000.

The public comment period for the new proposed burn ban will remain open through June 26. Comments can be directed to Robert Stanton, of the DEC Division of Air Resource, 625 Broadway, 2nd Floor, Albany 12233 or 215fires@gw.dec.state.ny.us.""

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