The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 5, 2013

East Buffalo may ban burning by farmers

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — East Buffalo Township is applying for a state recycling grant that would let it buy a wood chipper and a mounted vacuum to make for efficient pickup and cleanup of brush and leaf waste.

There’s just one caveat — and farmers may not like it.

A condition of the grant, under Act 101, section 902, means the township cannot allow burning of waste whatsoever, or it’s disqualified. This would include farmers, who have been exempt from the township’s general ban on burning.

“We’ve had an exception for agricultural areas,” said East Buffalo Township Supervisor Thomas Zorn of the municipality’s burn ban. “We need an ordinance that shows a total burning ban or we won’t be considered.”

Under the grant, municipalities are eligible for 90 percent funding of approved recycling program costs. East Buffalo Township may apply for up to $250,000 under the grant program.

The township is considering purchasing a Brush Bandit 1390XP wood chipper and Freightliner truck with an Old Dominion truck-mounted vacuum to collect and process brush and leaf waste. People may submit questions or comments about the purchase to the township by close of business Friday. It has until May 31 to submit its grant application.

Zorn said the supervisors know the farmers among the township’s 2,300 households might be upset about a possible burn ban.

“Up to this point, what we have in place was fine with DEP,” he said. “But because grant money tightened up, they’re looking at more stringent requirements for burning than in past.”

A total burn ban in the township may not be as bad as all that, however, as there isn’t much that farmers still burn, said Guy Temple, a well-known agriculture expert in the region and a contributor to the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension.

Temple spoke with several farmers in the township, who said they sometimes burn plastic used to store hay or silage for livestock feed, and sometimes fence rows that separate fields.

“They cut the trees for firewood, and burn the brush from the trees,” he said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection, any municipality that lets materials of its municipal recycling program — including leaf waste — “be managed in a manner other than recycling or composting” is violating Act 101.”