State Division of Forestry makes an exception for Southeast Alaska, allowing permitted burns

Excavators load trees and brush into a burn pile on July 17, 2018, on about 20 acres of land being cleared by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
Excavators load trees and brush into a controlled burn pile on July 17, 2018. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

Starting May 1, all burn permits are being suspended across the state — except in the panhandle.

Tim Mowry, spokesperson for the Alaska Division of Forestry, said high fire danger and very dry conditions in Southcentral Alaska led them to suspend permits statewide for controlled burns.

He said the suspension will also reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for firefighters who would be responding to human-caused fires. But after consulting with Southeast Alaska officials, they decided to make an exception for the area’s rainforest.

“It’s more difficult for a fire, given those wet conditions and the fuels that you have down there, to get established,” Mowry said.

That means anyone in Cordova and south of there can do controlled burns on state, municipal or private land.

“Such as for small scale, using a burn barrel, or burning debris or brush piles,” Mowry said. “And then large scale would be more land clearing-type stuff that contractors are doing.”

They just need to get a permit first.

For Southeast, Mowry said they could still suspend burn permits if it gets dry again later this summer.

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