State forestry officials are working to head off a rumor that Alabama is under a statewide burn ban.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management said it has issued annual summertime restrictions on fires to clear vegetation. This applies to the state's 12 most urbanized counties. The agency said it has nothing to do with the current drought conditions.
Ron Gore is the head of the Air Division of ADEM. He said there is an environmental reason for the current summer restrictions.
"Open burning releases lots of very fine particles that get down deep in your lungs and can cause health problems, and summertime is the time of the year where these levels tend to be highest in the atmosphere," Gore said. "Burning what would be legal in other months is prohibited in the 12 most urbanized counties in the state during those summer months."
The annual burn restriction is in effect from May 1 through October 31. The 12 counties included are Baldwin, Mobile DeKalb, Montgomery, Etowah, Morgan, Jefferson, Shelby, Lawrence, Russell, Madison and Talladega counties.
Gore said even those who do not live in one of those counties, it is important to understand the law before burning any vegetation.
"ADEM doesn't issue or deny burn permits. If you're going to burn anything, it needs to be legal according to the rules, but you don't need a permit," he said. "However, the forestry commission does require a permit to do large-scale burning, such as silvicultural burning where you burn the wood in order to reduce the underbrush and so on."
No other state-mandated burn restrictions are in effect. For those unsure about the law in particular counties, contact the forestry commission of ADEM.