OFFICE LOCATION:
Butte County Air Quality Management District
629 Entler Avenue, Suite 15
Chico, CA 95928
(530) 332-9400

Agricultural Burning

Burn Permit Application Forms

Rice Permit Ready List - By List Number

Rice Permit Ready List - By Grower

Agricultural Burning Fact Sheet

***RICE GROWERS BURNING INFORMATION***


    The District Governing Board unanimously approved proposedRule 300 Open Burning Requirements which took effect March 1, 2011. For more information go to the District's List of Current Rules.

    In addition to a fire agency-issued burn permit, aDistrictBurn Permit may be required for burning agricultural waste; land clearing waste; or levee, ditch, timber harvesting operations, prescribed burning, and right-of-way clearing waste. Please contact the District if you have any questions regarding burning requirements.
    For all agricultural burning: You must contact the District to determine if it is a burn day. Call the agricultural burn line at (530) 332-9406 or toll free @ 1-855-332-9406 and leave a message with the following information:
    • Valid burn permit number
    • What you plan to burn (crop)
    • How many acres you plan to burn
    • Location of where you plan to burn
    • Phone number where you can be reached

    Burning is allowed only on Permissive Burn Days, when forecasted weather conditions create enough air movement to permit good smoke dispersal. Burning is also restricted to certain times of the day. All burn permit holders must comply with local fire protection agency permit requirements.

    If you have further questions about the open burning requirements, contact your local fire department.

    • Biggs FD/CDFFP: 868-5834
    • Butte Co. FD/CDFFP: 538-7111
    • Chico FD: 895-4932�El
    • Medio FD: 533-4484
    • Gridley FD/CDFFP: 846-5711
    • Lassen USFS: 873-0580
    • Oroville FD: 538-2524
    • Paradise FD: 872-6264
    • Plumas USFS: 534-6500

    What is agricultural burning?
    Agricultural burning is the open burning of vegetative materials produced from commercial growing and harvesting crops or raising fowl or animals. Agricultural waste also includes the use of open outdoor fires used in the operation or maintenance of a system for the delivery of water, wildland burning, and forest management burning including silvaculture and timber operations, and prescribed burning.

    Why is agricultural burning important?
    Agricultural burning helps farmers remove crop residues left in the field after harvesting grains such as rice, wheat or corn, and for orchard pruning's and removal. Burning is also helpful in removing weeds, preventing disease and controlling pests. For some crops, particularly rice, burning of straw or stubble is the most efficient and effective way to control disease. In the Sacramento Valley, rice has historically accounted for much of the local agricultural burning, with corn and wheat close behind.

    Prescribed Burning is a planned fire and is valued by public and private land manager for vegetation management. Fire has a natural role in forest ecosystems and is used to minimize catastrophic wildfires.

    Why is agricultural burning regulated?
    The California Air Resources Board (CARB) determines permissive burn days and the number of acres allocated for agricultural and open burning based on meteorological and air quality factors. When conditions have been met, CARB authorizes burning in the Sacramento Valley Air Basin.

    The Sacramento Valley Basinwide Air Pollution Control Council, compromised of nine air districts, develops an annual burn plan for the valley, subject to CARB approval. Then burn plan specifies requirements for determining agricultural burn hours and days, basinwide acreage allocations, commensurate with weather conditions and air quality levels.

    The District handles the day-to-day field operation of agricultural burning; issuing burn permits, informing growers and land managers of when and how much they can burn, conducting complaint investigations, conducting enforcement procedures in violation cases and publishing educational materials on air quality issues.As a source of pollution, smoke can pose a serious threat to human respiratory systems:

    Smoke particles- very small droplets of condensed organic vapors, unburned fuel, soot, and ash that escape from fire can cause and aggravate lung damage, chronic lung disease and cancer. Smoke constrains ozone-forming compounds (volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen) and significant amounts of fine particles and other pollutants.

    Toxic residue from compounds in smoke can remain in the air for weeks; if inhaled, it can lodge deep in the lungs, causing irritation and coughing. Pollutants from open burning are believed to contribute less than 7% to Butte County's ground-level ozone and less than 9% to PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter). The primary source of regional pollution continues to be motor vehicles (70%) in summer, and residential wood burning appliances (wood stoves, inserts, and fireplaces) in winter. However, as part of the effort to reduce air pollution in the Sacramento Valley Air Basin, agricultural burning is controlled through a process of permits, rules, and regulations.

    Penalties for violating California air pollution regulations can be expensive - as much as $50,000 per day. Keeping agricultural burning operations within the law not only avoids costly penalties, but helps provide a healthier environment for everyone.

    Who may burn waste and when?
    An Air Quality Management District Burn Permit may be required for burning agricultural waste, land clearing waste, levees, ditches, timber harvesting operations, prescribed burning, and right-of-way clearing waste.
    Burning is allowed only on Permissive Burn Days, when forecasted weather conditions create enough air movement to permit good smoke dispersal. Burning is also restricted to certain times of the day. All burn permit holders must also comply with local fire protection agency permit requirements.

    What is "phase-down law"?
    The Rice Straw Burning Reduction Act was enacted in 1991 by the California Legislature to phase down (but not phase out) burning of rice straw in the Sacramento Valley Air Basin. In 1998, the total amount of rice acreage that may be burned was limited to 200,000 each year. During the fall season up to 90,000 acres may be burned and 110,000 acres in the spring. Beginning in 2001, rice straw burning will be limited to 25% of the planted acres. In order to burn, however, growers must show proof of crop loss due to disease, and only 125,000 acres per year will be allocated basinwide. Because of the phase down, farmers are seeking alternatives to burning. The Sacramento Valley Agricultural Burn Plan is also contributing to a decrease in the total percentage of local acreage being burned.