H. B. 2986
(By Delegates Hartman, Michael, Williams,
Crosier, Shaver, D. Campbell and Romine)
(By Request of the Division of the Forestry)
[Passed March 12, 2011; in effect from passage.]
AN ACT to
amend and reenact §20-3-5 of the Code of West Virginia,
1931, as amended, relating to forest fire seasons; modifying
prohibited and permissible fire times and forest fire seasons;
revising the procedure for obtaining a burning permit;
establishing permit fees for certain entities; exempting
agriculture from permit fees; setting forth fire control
requirements; and establishing criminal and civil penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §20-3-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended,
be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. FORESTS AND WILDLIFE AREAS.
§20-3-5. Forest fire seasons; prohibited and permissible fires;
burning permits and fees; fire control measures; criminal and civil penalties.
(a) Forest fire seasons. -- March 1 through May 31, and
October 1 through December 31 are designated as forest fire
seasons. During any fire season, a person may set on fire or cause
to be set on fire any forest land, or any grass, grain, stubble,
slash, debris, or other inflammable materials only between five
o'clock p.m. and seven o'clock a.m., at which time the fire must be
(b) Permissible fires during forest fire seasons. -- The
following attended fires are permitted without a burning permit
unless there is a burning ban in effect:
(1) Small fires set for the purpose of food preparation, or
providing light or warmth around which all grass, brush, stubble,
or other debris has been removed for a distance of ten feet from
the fire; and
Burning conducted at any time when the ground surrounding
the burning site is covered by one inch or more of snow.
(c) Burning permits.-- The director or his or her designee may issue
burning permits authorizing fires
during forest fire seasons that
are otherwise prohibited by this section. The permits shall state
the requisite conditions and time frame to prevent danger from the
fire to life or property.
(1) Permit fees.-- Entities required to pay a permit fee are
those engaged in commercial, manufacturing, public utility, mining
and like activities. Agricultural activities are exempt from paying the permit fee. The permit fee is $125 per site and shall
be deposited into the Division of Forestry Fund (3081) to be used
to administer the provisions of this section. The permit fee covers
the fire season during which it is issued.
(2) Noncompliance with any condition of the permit is a
violation of this section. Any permit which was obtained through
willful misrepresentation is invalid and violates this section.
(3) Permit holders shall take all necessary and adequate
precautions to confine and control fires authorized by the permit.
Failure to take action is a violation of this section and is
justification for the director to revoke the permit.
(d) Fire control. --
(1) With approval of the Governor, the director may prohibit
the starting of and require the extinguishment of fire in any
designated area, including fires permitted by this section. .
(2) With approval of the Governor, the director may designate
any forest area as a danger area, prohibit entry, and declare
conditional uses and prohibited areas of the forest by proclamation
at any time of the year. The proclamation shall be furnished to
newspapers, radio stations and television stations that serve the
designated area and shall become effective after twenty-four hours.
The proclamation remains in effect until the director, with the
approval of the Governor, terminates it. The order shall designate
the time of termination, and notice of the order shall be furnished
to each newspaper, radio station and television station that received a copy of the proclamation.
(3) Burning is not permitted by this section until all
inflammable material has been removed from around the material to
be burned and a safety strip of at least ten feet is established to
ensure that the fire will not escape.
(e) Criminal and civil penalties. -- A person or entity that
violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon
conviction, shall be fined not less than $100 and not more than
$1,000 for each violation. In addition to fines and costs, a
person or entity convicted of a violation of this section shall pay
a $200 civil penalty to the division within sixty days. The civil
penalty shall be collected by the court in which the person is
convicted and forwarded to the division and deposited in the
Division of Forestry Fund (3081) to be used to administer the
provisions of this section.