October 26, 2021

Volume XI, Number 299

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October 25, 2021

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Ohio EPA Proposes Changes to Open Burning Regulations for Prairie Fires

Controlled burning is an integral, if sometimes controversial, method of maintaining prairie lands in Ohio. While the Ohio EPA has approved controlled burns of prairie land since the 1970s, a 2013 ruling by the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) cast doubt on the future of controlled prairie burns.

In the spring of 2013, the Portsmouth Local Air Agency issued burning permits for 709 acres of land in the Shawnee State Forest. Environmentalist Barbara Lund then sued the State to stop the burns. ERAC sided with Lund in the case Lund v. Portsmouth Local Air Agency, Case No. ERAC 13-016720 (Dec. 19, 2013), holding that the State failed to establish that the controlled burning of a prairie fell into the “silvacultural” or “wildlife management” exceptions to Ohio’s general prohibition on open burning. The court reasoned, on a textual basis, that since “silvaculture” is a word only intended to cover forestry activities, not prairies, and any impact on wildlife would be purely incidental, a controlled burn of a prairie did not fall within the existing open burning exceptions.

To remedy this situation, the Ohio EPA has proposed an amendment to OAC 3745-19-04 that specifies that “prairie and grassland management” as well as “invasive species management” are acceptable justifications for it to allow open burning. If adopted, the proposed changes will provide clarity for those seeking to employ open burns to manage prairie lands.

© 2021 Dinsmore & Shohl LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume V, Number 184
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About this Author

Dinsmore's Environmental Practice Group provides clients with a broad range of services to help achieve and maintain compliance with environmental laws and regulations and, when necessary, successfully litigate environmental and toxic tort cases. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in federal and state administrative, civil and criminal environmental and related litigation matters throughout the United States. Through Dinsmore's comprehensive capabilities to provide preventive environmental counseling, business transactions advice and dispute resolution...

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