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Part 194: Forest Practices

(Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law, § 1-0101, 3-0301, 9-0105 and 9-1105)

[page 1 of 1]

Contents:

Sec.

§194.1 Definitions

As used in this Part, the following terms shall have the indicated meanings:

a. Agriculture shall mean the science, art and business of cultivating the soil, producing crops (including field crops, fruits, vegetables and horticultural specialties), growing livestock feed, and raising and maintaining livestock and livestock products (including cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, horses, poultry, fur bearing animals, milk, eggs and furs) useful to humans, commonly known as farming. Agriculture will not include the raising of crops, products, or livestock which are not primarily intended to be sold.

b. Commissioner shall mean the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation of the State of New York.

c. Department shall mean the Department of Environmental Conservation of the State of New York, its officers and employees.

d. Fire unit shall mean the land area to be treated using a prescribed fire or prescribed burn.

e. Forest land shall mean land carrying forest growth or, if totally lacking it, bearing evidence of former forest and not now in other use. It includes not only lands which may be covered with tree growth but also lands best adapted to forests.

f. Management ignited prescribed fire, prescribed fire, or prescribed burn shall mean the intentional setting of forest land on fire under carefully controlled conditions to achieve a vegetative or wildlife management goal adhering to a written and approved prescribed fire plan.

g. Non-department lands shall mean all lands not under the jurisdiction of the department, including but not limited to lands under the jurisdiction of other state agencies or public authorities, lands owned by counties, towns, villages, cities or other political subdivisions of the state, and privately owned lands.

h. Person shall mean for the purposes of this Part an individual, organization, corporation, state agency other than the department, public authority, county, town, village, city, municipal agency or other private forest landowner.

i. Prescribed burn plan or prescribed burn management plan shall mean a written design for the use of fire to accomplish management goals and incorporating all applicable requirements in Section 194.5.

j. Prescribed fire plan or prescribed fire management plan shall mean a written design for the use of fire to accomplish management goals and incorporating all applicable requirements in Section 194.3.

k. Prescribed natural fire shall mean a fire ignited by natural causes and allowed to continue to burn to predetermined containment points as long as the characteristics of the fire remain within a written and approved prescribed fire plan containing applicable requirements in Section 194.3

l. Regional land manager shall mean the senior departmental program person to whom a given parcel is assigned for management in a departmental region; e.g., Regional Wildlife Manager, Regional Forester, Regional Forestry Manager, Chief of the Bureau of Marine Habitat Protection for department-owned tidal wetlands.

§194.2 Prescribed fires on state land under the jurisdiction of the department

a. The department is authorized to set management ignited prescribed fires and manage naturally ignited prescribed fires for purposes including, but not limited to silviculture, wildlife management, habitat management, insect and/or disease control, forest fuel reduction, wildfire suppression or as an alternative action to mechanical or chemical control of vegetation.

b. No prescribed fire, either intentionally or naturally ignited, shall be set or be allowed to burn on land constituting the Forest Preserve or on any State land within the Adirondack or Catskill Parks for any purpose other than fire suppression.

c. Management ignited prescribed fires shall not be set until a prescribed fire management plan is approved which contains provisions for notifying or waiving notification concerning such fire to local fire officials, airports, police agencies and health care facilities.

§194.3 Prescribed fire management plan for state land under the jurisdiction of the department

No prescribed fire shall be set unless a prescribed fire management plan has been prepared in advance and approved in writing by the department. Prescribed fire plans shall address all the following requirements; except that prescribed fire plans for natural ignitions will not include cost estimates, preparation work descriptions, test fire procedures and the ignition method or pattern. Additional requirements may be added to a prescribed fire plan as needed to achieve unique fire objectives or to meet local requirements.

a. Fire unit description: a narrative description of the physical and biological features of the fire unit, including topography, fuels and vegetation.

b. Vicinity map: a map at the appropriate scale showing the relationship of the fire unit to the surrounding area.

c. Project map: a detailed map at the appropriate scale of the project area, showing project boundary (including distance between project and adjacent lands or property to be protected), topographic features, potential hazards, control lines, ignition pattern and other relevant information.

d. Goals and objectives: a statement of the goals and objectives to be accomplished by the prescribed fire. It should include the purpose of the prescribed fire as well as measurable objectives such as tons of fuel to be consumed, percent of mineral soil to be exposed or percent of vegetative species controlled.

e. Cost: an itemized estimate of the costs involved for each segment of the prescribed fire: planning, ignition or firing, mop-up, patrol and any other costs.

f. Equipment and personnel: a list of equipment and personnel, including personnel duty titles, needed on site and on standby.

g. Fire prescription: the description of the acceptable range of fire weather, fuel and soil moisture, fuel quantity and fire behavior conditions to achieve the desired effects.

h. Weather information: an outline of prefire desired weather conditions and procedures for obtaining spot weather information during the prescribed fire and for smoke dispersal forecasts.

i. Preparation work: a list of required activities required to take place prior to ignition, including but not limited to fire lines, special features to be protected and installation of monitoring equipment.

j. Protection of special features: a list of instructions and actions to take to protect sensitive features within and adjacent to the prescribed fire project site. Such features include but are not limited to, historic and archeological sites, gas and oil wells, streams, habitats of threatened and endangered species that would be adversely impacted by the prescribed fire, adjacent structures and fragile soils.

k. Smoke management: identify potential smoke affected areas and smoke management strategies to avoid such areas, and to reduce and/or disperse emissions to minimize any adverse effect on the environment, including human health and welfare. Also describe procedures to comply with applicable State and local regulations.

l. Prefire coordination and public involvement: where applicable, establish responsibility for preburn coordination with affected agencies, lessees and landowners. Assess the need for public involvement and media contacts in advance of the prescribed fire and take action where necessary.

m. Fire day notification: establish responsibility for fire day contacts. List individuals, lessees, agencies and public groups to be contacted, how contacts will be accomplished and by whom.

n. Public and personnel safety: a description of safety and emergency procedures. List pertinent names and means of contact. Identify emergency medical evacuation routes and facilities.

o. Communications: a list of key communication contacts and telephone numbers.

p. Briefing guidelines and "Go" or "No Go" checklist: a description of the project procedures which should be reviewed with those conducting the prescribed fire to make sure all involved personnel are familiar with them. The checklist must be completed prior to ignition and will describe the conditions beyond which the prescribed fire must not be ignited. Provide the name of the individual who has the authority to issue the "go" or "no go" command.

q. Test fire: a list of procedures for conducting a test fire to determine whether the ground and atmospheric conditions meet the requirements established in the prescribed fire plan.

r. Firing, containment, mop-up and patrol: a description of the method of ignition, ignition pattern, containment, mop-up and patrol procedures. Include personnel, equipment and standards for each action.

s. Contingency: identify potential fire escapes and specify actions to be taken should such an event occur. Designate a person in charge of suppression action and identify the personnel and equipment available for suppression.

t. Monitoring and evaluation: a description of the variables that will be monitored and evaluated to determine if project objectives have been met. Establish time frame guidelines and personnel and equipment requirements.

u. Rehabilitation: a description of standards for site clean up and erosion control and for site restoration, if needed.

v. Necessary support documentation: a listing of all documentation necessary to support (as applicable) all elements of the prescribed fire plan.

w. Required signatures and approvals: The names and signature lines of the preparers of the prescribed fire plan and those who have the authority to review and approve the plan and modifications of the plan.

§194.4 Prescribed burns on non-department lands

a. No person shall ignite a prescribed burn without first receiving written authorization from the department. The department may authorize a person, state agency, public authority, county, town, village, city or municipal agency to use prescribed burns on public or private forest lands for purposes including, but not limited to silviculture, wildlife management, habitat management, insect and/or disease control, forest fuel reduction or as an alternative action to mechanical or chemical control of vegetation pursuant to a written prescribed burn management plan prepared by or for such landowner. The prescribed burn plan must be submitted for approval to the appropriate regional land manager of the department. The prescribed burn plan shall contain, but is not limited to the requirements in Section 194.5.

b. Those persons engaged in the practice of agriculture are exempt from the requirements of this Part.

§194.5 Prescribed burn plan for non-department lands

The prescribed burn plan shall include, but not be limited to the following elements:

a. Landowner or prescribed burn manager qualifications: a description of the landowner's or prescribed burn manager's training and expertise in conducting prescribed burn activities.

b. Prescribed burn unit description: a map at the appropriate scale and a narrative description identifying the area or areas on which prescribed burn activities will be undertaken.

c. Goals and objectives: a description of the ecological purposes and objectives of the prescribed burn, including an identification of the specific species or natural communities that are intended to be affected by the burn.

d. Cover and fuel loads: a description of the vegetative cover and fuel loads on each area to be subjected to prescribed burning.

e. Timing and weather conditions: a description of physical conditions, such as time of year, wind speed and direction, and air temperature and humidity, which must be met before a prescribed burn is initiated.

f. Intensity and duration of burn: a description of the anticipated intensity and duration of the prescribed burn, such as flame length and rate of spread, given the fuel loads and physical prescriptions described.

g. Logistics: a description of the logistics of the prescribed burn operation, number of personnel and description of duties, and fire management equipment that will be deployed to assure that the burn is restricted to the area or areas identified for prescribed burn management. This will include but not be limited to a description of the method of ignition, ignition pattern, containment, mop-up and patrol procedures.

h. Suppression: a description of fire suppression activities to be immediately implemented should the prescribed burn threaten to escape, or actually escape, beyond the boundaries identified for such burn.

i. Notification: a description of the procedures for notifying appropriate department forest protection and fire management staff, local fire officials, law enforcement personnel and adjoining landowners of the actual date, time and estimated duration of any prescribed burn.

j. Communications: a list of key communication contacts and telephone numbers.

k. Smoke management: identify potential smoke affected areas and smoke management strategies to avoid such areas, and to reduce and/or disperse emissions to minimize any adverse effect on the environment, including human health and welfare. Also note procedures for compliance with applicable State and local regulations.

l. Required signatures and approvals: the names and signature lines of the preparers of the prescribed fire plan, and for those who have the authority to review and approve the plan and modifications of the plan.

§194.6 Review of prescribed burn management plans for non-department lands

The prescribed burn plan shall be submitted to the appropriate regional land manager of the department no later than sixty (60) working days prior to the proposed date of the burn. It shall be reviewed by the regional land manager and the regional forest protection and fire management staff as needed for conformance to the requirements of Section 194.5 and to the accepted conditions for prescribed burns. If necessary, an on-site review of the prescribed burn plan shall take place to refine or modify the prescribed burn plan. The appropriate regional land manager shall also provide the chief or other official in charge of the fire department or company within whose territorial jurisdiction the proposed prescribed burn is located an opportunity to review and comment on the written prescribed burn management plan.

§194.7 Approval of prescribed burn management plans for non-department lands

The department shall have thirty (30) working days to review and take action upon the prescribed burn management plan. Upon the determination that the plan conforms with the requirements of Section 194.5 and the necessary permits have been obtained, the regional land manager may approve the plan. Such approval shall be in writing and shall specify the area of land approved for burning, the person or organization authorized to conduct the burn and the dates for which the approval is valid. However, no plan shall be approved if the department determines that the landowner or landowner's agent for the burn has not demonstrated the necessary expertise to properly implement the prescribed burn plan.

§194.8 Protection of adjoining property

For prescribed fires and prescribed burns, a minimum distance between the fire and property of adjacent landowners shall be maintained in order to protect such property. This distance shall be determined by analyzing the prescribed fire requirements (including weather information), calculated flame spread and the sensitivity of the adjacent property. Under normal circumstances prescribed fires shall not be set or allowed to burn within seventy-five (75) feet of an adjacent property. A written waiver of this limitation by owner(s) of the adjacent property shall be included in the plan, where applicable. The department may also require an expansion of the seventy-five (75) foot minimum buffer, if conditions so warrant. Prescribed fires and prescribed burns shall be contained within a predetermined area and shall be managed to the greatest extent possible to avoid damage to adjacent property.

§194.9 Permits

Management ignited prescribed fires and prescribed burns for which authorization under this Part is granted will not be subject to the permit requirements of Article 19 of the Environmental Conservation Law and any duly promulgated regulations thereunder. Prescribed natural fires do not require a permit.

§194.10 Reporting

Within sixty (60) days of the final day of the period for which a prescribed fire or prescribed burn has been authorized, the person or organization conducting the prescribed fire or prescribed burn shall submit a report to the appropriate regional land manager describing: whether the prescribed fire or prescribed burn took place, including the actual days on which the action was conducted; and, if the action took place: the weather conditions that existed at the time of the action, how actual fire and smoke behavior correlated with predicted behavior, whether the objectives set forth in the prescribed fire plan or prescribed burn plan were achieved while having a minimal adverse impact on the environment, an assessment of the impact of the action on the environment including wildlife and their habitat and whether additional measures could be taken in the future to reduce this impact.

§194.11 Enforcement

Violation of Sections 194.5, 194.6, 194.7 and 194.8 will be enforced under the penalty provisions provided by Environmental Conservation Law Article 71, Title 7, Section 71-0703..