Forsyth County is one of 54 Georgia counties included in the annual summer outdoor burning ban that begins May 1 and continues through Sept. 30. During the ban, certain types of outdoor burning are not allowed.
• Burning for reduction of leaves on premises is prohibited.
• Acquired structure burns are prohibited.
• Burning to clear vegetative storm debris is prohibited.
• Burning for weed abatement and pest and disease prevention are prohibited.
• Burning for land clearing, construction, and right-of-way maintenance are prohibited.
• Land clearing with air curtain destructors is prohibited.
Prescribed burns are also prohibited in Forsyth and 18 other urban/metro counties during the summer burn ban.
What’s behind the burn ban?
Air quality protection. In the summer, air quality declines because sun and heat aid in production of another air pollutant: ground-level ozone. This type of ozone is produced by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds emitted by cars, factories and other features of urban life.
Breathing in ground-level, or tropospheric, ozone can cause numerous health issues, such as coughing and throat irritation, reduced lung function, and damage to lung tissue. It’s especially bad for people with asthma and other breathing challenges.
Open outdoor burning adds particle pollution to the air we breathe, which makes summer air quality even worse. In an effort to protect our air quality during summer months, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division enforces a ban on certain types of open burning in 54 metro-area and neighboring counties.
You can view the current Air Quality Index and forecasts at https://bit.ly/2XvjMFV.
Wildfire prevention Outdoor burning of debris sparks more than half the wildfires that occur each year in Georgia. Of those, most get their start from people burning leaf piles in their yards.
Where we live, fuel sources — trees, homes, and everything else that can burn — are abundant. Weather that’s dry and windy creates ideal conditions to spread fire. Wind can pick up burning embers, carry them for a mile or more, and deposit them where they can ignite another fire.
The Georgia Forestry Commission provides current and forecasted fire danger information on their website (weather.gfc.state.ga.us/). Fire danger ratings range from 1 (low) to 5 (extreme), and are based on relative humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature, amount and duration of rainfall within the past 24 hours, vegetation type and numerous other factors. For April 17, the Fire Danger Ratings across the state were in the high (3) to extreme (5) range.
Ways to dispose of yard and construction debris without burning
Composting converts yard waste into a valuable soil-building amendment. Start with dry leaves, add plant-based kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, moisten as needed, and stir every two to three weeks. By the end of summer, you’ll have rich compost. Use it to top-dress lawn areas or incorporate it into your garden beds. Adding compost improves soil structure, relieves compaction, and provides for better water infiltration to the root zone to nourish your plants.
Grind, chip, or shred storm debris to make an excellent mulch that suppresses weeds and cushions the foot on paths and walkways in your landscape. Alternatively, several businesses around the county accept woody storm debris.
Several local establishments also accept construction waste. Please visit www.forsythco.com/Departments-Offices/Recycling-Solid-Waste/Frequently-Asked-Questions for locations and more information.
Get rid of household hazardous waste safely
If all this talk about yard clean-up gets you thinking about cleaning out the garage, too, you’re in luck. Keep Forsyth County Beautiful is hosting a Household Hazardous Waste Recycling and Disposal Event on May 4.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can bring materials such as pesticides, batteries, paint, fluorescent bulbs, and other hazardous household products to the Cumming Fairgrounds. They will be collected for recycling or safe disposal. For a complete list of accepted products and other important information, visit www.keepforsythcountybeautiful.org/.
Forsyth County Extension has moved
Please visit us at our new digs: 5110 Piney Grove Road, Cumming, GA 30040, or on the web at extension.uga.edu/county-offices/forsyth.html.
Heather N. Kolich is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent for the UGA Extension Forsyth County.