Calling for burn ban complicated

Milam County Commissioners Court met Monday June 22 and considered the issue of implementing a burn ban for Milam County. After much discussion among court members and the audience the burn ban order was passed by a vote of four for and one against.

The idea of government telling us what to do never has set well with me or for that matter most folks I know. We figure that we can pretty well think and make decisions for our selves, and we probably can. The other person is usually the one that causes problems for all of us, and forces government to step in.

There is no doubt that things are hot and dry in Milam County. Most of the grasses in the county that have not received supplemental irrigation are currently in the "crunchy" stage. Walking across large areas of the county is like walking on corn flakes. The bad news is that it does not look like we are in for any major changes in the weather, and we are not even into July yet.

One of the things brought up during the discussion of the burn ban was that in Texas the law is such that there is always a burn ban in effect.

Rule 111.201 of the Texas Administrative Code states, "No person may cause, suffer, allow, or permit any outdoor burning within the State of Texas, except as provided by this subchapter or by orders or permits of the commission. Outdoor disposal or deposition of any material capable of igniting spontaneously, with the exception of the storage of solid fossil fuels, shall not be allowed without written permission of the executive director..."

The statute then goes on to list six special exceptions to the rule. One of those exceptions relates to waste disposal. A broad exception for fires to dispose of waste or clear land covers seven more specific categories that include, domestic waste, diseased animal carcasses, burning of animal remains by a veterinarian, on-site burning of waste plant growth, designated burn sites, crop residues and brush, trees, etc., offsite. As you can see the rules for outdoor burning in Texas can get somewhat complicated.

If you are interested in learning all you can about outdoor burning in Texas you can get a copy of Outdoor Burning in Texas. Publication RG-049 can be downloaded from the TCEQ web site or you can contact the Region 9 office at 254-751-0335 and request a copy.

Bottom line is for the next 90 days a burn ban is in effect for Milam County unless lifted by court order before the expiration date. To keep the ban in effect past the 90 day window the court must order the ban be extended for another 90 days.

So you might ask if burning is always illegal, except for specifi c exemptions why do we need a burn ban? As one individual put it during the court meeting, the burn ban basically advises the public of the severity of the current situation within the burn ban area.

If you have any questions about the burn ban contact your local fire department or you can call my office at 254-697-7000.

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2009-06-25 digital edition

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