Polk County is one of 26 counties added to Georgia’s 2001 Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Open Burn Regulations, according to Denise Croker, Chief Ranger, Polk County Unit, Georgia Forestry Commission.
These counties include Polk, Banks, Barrow, Butts, Chattooga, Clarke, Dawson, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Heard, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Oconee, Pickens, Pike, Putnam, Troup and Upson.
The only “legal exception” to the general prohibition against open burning, which should be from 10 a.m. to one hour before sunset, are the following:
—Carrying out recognized agricultural procedures necessary for production or harvesting of crops.
—The “prescribed burning” of any forest land by the owners or the owner’s designee.
—For recreational purposes or cooking food for immediate human consumption.
—Fires set for purposes of training fire-fighting personnel when authorized by the appropriate governmental entity and guidelines set forth by the Director are strictly observed.
—Operation of devices using open flames such as tar kettles blow torches, welding torches, portable heaters and other flame-making equipment.
—Setting and maintenance by contractors and tradesmen of miscellaneous small fires necessary to such activities as street-paving installation or repair of utilities, provided that the fires are kept small and no smoke emissions exceed 40 percent opacity and that local ordinances and regulations do not prohibit such actions.
—Disposal of all packaging materials previously containing explosives, in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Safety Regulations.
Ms. Croker, during the April meeting of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, said, “No permits will be issued to burn leaves or brush in piles until Oct. 1,” she said. “This is part of EPD’s air quality regulations. They are the enforcing agency.”
She said the “no burn” rule will affect any individual who has cleared large tracts and wishes to burn debris. “It is a smoke management tool and will impact many people.”
Commissioner Ray Barber asked Ms. Croker what alternatives people who are clearing land would have in regard to the new regulations.
She responded: “They could get a chipper or place in piles until a permit can be obtained.
If violations are noted, the enforcing agency will be EPD.
Information provided at the meeting by Ms. Croker notes:
“A written notification to a person of a violation at one site shall be considered adequate notice of rules and regulations. Subsequently observed violations by the person at the same or different site will result in immediate appropriate legal action.”
After hearing of the new regulations, Rockmart Fire Chief Scott Carter said it has been the practice of his department to observe any ban issued by the State of Georgia. “We support and will abide by any regulation issued by departments within Georgia,” he said.