Despite statewide drought conditions, the Georgia Forestry Commission will begin issuing burn permits Monday with the lifting of a summer burn ban.
Forestry Chief Ranger Senior Steve Abbott said dry weather is a concern, but provided there are proper weather conditions, burning permits will be issued.
Today is the final day of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's five-month ban on residential and commercial burning for much of north Georgia, including Columbia and Richmond counties. The ban covers 54 counties in the "nonattainment" zone, an area that does not meet federal air quality standards.
"These people (applying for permits) are going to have to use caution when they burn because of the drought conditions, lower humidity and possibly higher winds," Abbott said.
Drought conditions contributed to massive wildfires in south Georgia earlier this year, according to a forestry commission news release, which adds that drought conditions are expected to continue if the state does not receive significant rain from tropical storm systems.
Permits are required for residential and commercial burning. Those burning are required to have water and tools and cannot leave fires unattended. Fires should be out and no smoke should emanate from a burn pile after 6 p.m., Abbott said.
County and state rules prohibit outdoor water use on Mondays.
Only natural materials such as leaves and limbs are allowed to be burned. Burn piles should be no larger than 6 feet by 6 feet.
Abbott said burning is being allowed because leaves and limbs serve as fuel to forest fires, and burning is an economical way to clear yards of debris and keep lawn materials out of landfills.
To check whether conditions are right to burn and to obtain a burn permit, contact the Georgia Forestry at (877) OK-2BURN (652-2876), or visit www.gatrees.org.
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