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For Release: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DEC Announces Clean Air Grants to Local Communities

Projects Designed To Reduce Open Burning and Associated Public Health Risks

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced awards for "Clean Air Grants," to 13 New York communities. The grants are designed to assist counties, towns and villages in reducing open burning of leaves and other organic materials, educate residents about the dangers of open burning and assist with the purchasing of recycling and composting equipment.

"DEC is committed to reducing harmful air pollutants and the prevention of destructive wildfires," said Commissioner Martens. "In addition to releasing harmful pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and lead, the open burning of residential organic waste such as leaves and branches, is the largest single cause of wildfires in the state."

A total of $60,000 was awarded for 13 projects statewide ranging from helping the Village of Windsor in Broome County better manage wood waste to partnering with the Dutchess County Village of Tivoli to conduct a home composting pilot project and help educate residents about safer alternatives to open burning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides DEC with the funding for these grants.

To help reduce these threats and improve the health and safety of all New Yorkers, DEC extended restrictions on the open burning of residential organic waste in all communities statewide, regardless of the community's size in population.

The DEC Clean Air Grant Program was designed to help local communities better manage residential organic waste materials and also build better community understanding of the dangers associated with open burning.

Grants of up to $5,000 were awarded to the following communities:

Central New York

  • Village of Windsor, Broome County, to assist in the purchase of a commercial wood chipper and conduct a public awareness program on the dangers of open burning to public health and safety.
  • Town of Moravia, Cayuga County, to assist in the purchase of a chipper to increase the capacity to better manage brush and discourage open burning.
  • Town of Hartwick, Otsego County, to expand its annual "Clean Sweep" event to add recycling of tree branches and other organic materials. Expanding the event that now includes roadside clean-up and metal recycling will help the community safely and efficiently remove and compost organic materials. In addition to the health and safety benefits of reducing of open burning, the Town also identifies the economic benefits of maintaining clean air and a healthy ecosystem for both residents and tourists to enjoy.
  • Town of Constantia, Oswego County, to assist in the purchase of a commercial leaf vacuum that will be shared with the Town of Cleveland to more efficiently manage organic waste in both communities.
  • Town of Montezuma, Cayuga County, to assist in the purchase of a commercial wood chipper to better manage woody debris and discourage the practice of open burning and the resulting fire dangers to area homes and buildings.

Northern New York

  • Town of Pinckney, Lewis County, to assist in the purchase of a commercial wood chipper to give area residents a safer option for disposing branches and other tree waste. The Town will partner with the Tug Hill Commission and Development Authority of the North County to educate residents about the availability of the chipping service, the dangers of open burning and how they can get wood chips and mulch from the program.
  • Town of Webb, Herkimer County, to assist in the purchase of a municipal leaf vacuum to help the community safely and efficiently remove and compost organic materials. In addition to the health and safety benefits of reducing of open burning, the Town also identifies the economic benefits of maintaining clean air and a healthy ecosystem within the Adirondack Park.
  • Town of Boonville, Oneida County, to repair and refurbish a municipal leaf collection vacuum to reduce the possible loss of life and property that can often result from open burning and the added burden it puts on local volunteer fire companies.

Hudson Valley

  • Village of Tivoli, Dutchess County, to support an extensive public outreach program about the dangers of open burning and its threats to public health and safety. The Village will partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension using web-postings, mailings to area residents and public events to educate area residents. As a demonstration project, the Village will also purchase a number of home composting bins and distribute them to area residents on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Town of Monroe, Orange County, to assist in the purchase of a municipal leaf vacuum to help the community safely and more efficiently remove and compost organic materials. In addition to the health and safety benefits of reducing of open burning, the project will also enhance the economic benefits of maintaining clean air and a healthy ecosystem for both residents and tourists to enjoy.
  • City of Kingston, Ulster County, to assist in the purchase of a tow-behind chipper / shredder to better manage wood waste and brush from City parkland. That waste is currently hauled off site for disposal. By chipping on-site, the City will reduce the costs and environmental impacts of trucking debris, produce mulch for use at the parks and help educate residents how to correctly dispose of wood waste and debris.
  • Village of Millerton, Dutchess County, to assist in the purchase of a commercial chipper / shredder to give area residents a safer option to dispose of spring and fall cleanup of leaves and small tree branches. The Village will also be better able to assist residents with fallen debris after a storm or hard winter. This will all help residents maintain a clean and safe environment, while promoting green growth and eliminating the need for outdoor burning.

Capital District

  • Town of Nassau, Rensselaer County, to assist in the purchase of a commercial chipper/shredder to give area residents a safer option for disposing branches and other tree waste. The Town will also educate residents about the availability of chipping, the dangers or open burning and how they can get wood chips and mulch from the program.
  • Town of Hartwick, Otsego County, expand its annual "Clean Sweep" event to add recycling of tree branches and other organic materials. Expanding the event that now includes roadside clean-up and metal recycling will help the community safely and efficiently remove and compost organic materials. In addition to the health and safety benefits of reducing of open burning, the Town also identifies the economic benefits of maintaining clean air and a healthy ecosystem for both residents and tourists to enjoy.

For more information on the Clean Air Grant Program, including a comprehensive list of questions and answers, visit the DEC's website.

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