Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Last Week's Controlled Burn in Concord Was Legal
By Editor Becky Watts

CONCORD - There was a controlled, permitted burn just outside of the Hilltop area in Concord last Monday. Interim County Manager Rob Morton advised that the county had received a phone call about the burn and investigated but found that the burn was legal because a burn permit had been issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Open burning is restricted in metro Atlanta and surrounding areas from May 1st through September 30th of each year per Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) regulations to help with the ozone levels in Atlanta. Burn permits are not issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission during these months unless the application meets certain requirements. Pike County Times called the Georgia Forestry Commission to find out details of how a permitted burn can take place during the burn ban which is still in place until the last day of this month.

Agricultural burning and forestry "prescribed burning" can be exempted. Campfires or barbeques are also exempt. Fire-fighting training can be granted an exemption. Operation of open flame equipment can be exempted as well as the disposal of explosives in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Safety Regulations. However, according to the EPD website, there are no exemptions in the 19 county metro Atlanta non-attainment area of Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Spalding, Rockdale and Walton. Click here and here for more information.

Jeff Kenerly, Chief Ranger for the Georgia Forestry Commission, advised that a permit was issued for 40 acres. He advised that the Georgia Forestry Commission wrestles with issuing or not issuing permits at times.

Last Monday, there were several items considered before the permit was issued. The Drought Index was consulted, and the burn met the qualifications. The weather forecast was consulted, and conditions were ok for a burn even in a drought. And the wind was considered. In this case, the winds were light and variable so the decision was made to allow the site prep which is common practice to try to remove debris after clearing property in order to replant trees. Chief Ranger Kenerly advised that property owners are responsible for maintaining the fire including putting in firebreaks. If a property owner decides to burn without a permit and the fire burns out of control, the property owner will be billed for the time and use of Georgia Forestry equipment needed to get the fire extinguished. This could even include the use of air patrol to keep an eye on things.

There have been a couple of small fires in our area of late. There was a fire in Upson County that burned 15 acres after a power pole fell and a transformer hit the ground. This fire was contained with the use of one tractor. There was another in Taylor County a couple of weeks ago that burned about 12 acres before it was brought under control.

The Burn Ban is scheduled to discontinue on October 1st. Chief Ranger Kenerly advised the Georgia Forestry Commission keeping an eye on the weather and the drought as the end of the Burn Ban approaches. “We are watching closely,” he said. If no rain continues through the end of the month, the Georgia Forestry Comission may throttle back on permits.

Learn more about the Georgia Forestry Commission at www.gatrees.org.