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DNR bans open-air burning on most of its public lands

March 31, 2006

Open-air burning will not be allowed on any public land managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, except in Garrett County, the department said in a news release Thursday.

"In light of current wildfire conditions across the state, the projected dry weather forecast, and after careful deliberation, we have decided to ban open air burning on DNR public lands only, with the exception of Garrett County," DNR Secretary C. Ronald Franks said in the news release.

The ban applies to all state parks, state forests and wildlife management areas.

The department said the Maryland Forest Service had responded to 352 wildfires in March, more than twice the 20-year average for March.

Precipitation levels are close to record lows everywhere in Maryland except Garrett County and the outlook for the next eight to 14 days is more of the same, DNR said.

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In a news release, Washington County noted that it has a "significant amount of public lands, including land along the Appalachian Trail, across the rim of South Mountain from the Virginia line to Pennsylvania."

"While the ban on burning issued (Thursday) by the Department of Natural Resources is limited to public lands, all citizens should exercise extreme caution when burning on private property," said John Latimer, the director of Washington County's Division of Fire and Emergency Services.

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