Mote: With ban lifted, it’s now OK to burn in Houston

October 9, 2013 

It’s that time of year again when the leaves are beginning to fall and you are ready to start burning the leaves and other yard debris that are piling up.

As of Oct. 1, the burn ban for Georgia was lifted. In Georgia, the ban on burning runs from May through September each year and affects 54 counties. This ban falls under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division and the Air Protection Branch.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division imposes the ban on outdoor burning to comply with the Federal Clean Air Regulations. The ozone in the air that we breathe can reach unhealthy levels during the summer months in Georgia. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has identified open burning as a significant contributor to the pollutants that form ozone.

A permit must be obtained before burning outdoor debris and can only be obtained when weather conditions are favorable for burning. Permits can be obtained from the Georgia Forestry Commission on their website or by calling 877-OK-2-BURN.

Only natural material can be burned. It is unlawful to burn manmade material. Those seeking to do prescribed burning over a larger area will need to contact the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The practice of prescribed burning was observed by early American settlers and adopted to provide better access, improve hunting and get rid of brush and timber so they could farm. Annual burning became a custom.

So why do we burn today? There are several reasons: reduce natural fuels, prepare sites for seeding and planting, improve wildlife habitat, manage competing vegetation, control insects and disease, improve forage for grazing, enhance appearance and improve access.

There are several factors to a successful prescribed burn, but knowledge of weather and its effect on fire is the key to successful prescribed burning. The most important elements to consider for executing a good burn are wind, relative humidity, temperature and rainfall. Weather conditions favorable for burning include persistent winds, low relative humidity, cool temperatures and sunny skies.

Even though we have excess rain this year, escaped fire is still the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Georgia. The Georgia Forestry Commission can help you determine if weather conditions are favorable. It is also a good idea to contact your local fire department to let them know that there will be smoke coming out of your area.

More information about safe burning, permits and Georgia Forestry Commission services can be found at GaTrees.org.

For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.

Source: UGA Extension Publications

Dates to remember

Oct. 3-13: Georgia National Fair, Perry-Ask a Master Gardener Booth in Heritage Hall, demonstrations daily

Oct. 9: Walk Georgia registration deadline.

Oct. 15-17: Sunbelt Ag Expo, Moultrie-www.sunbeltexpo.com

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