RULE 417.1 Agricultural Burning - Adopted 4/18/72, Amended 12/12/79, 6/30/80, 8/22/89, Renumbered 5/89

I. General Definitions

A. Agricultural Burning: means (1) open outdoor fires used in agricultural operations in the growing of crops or the raising of fowls or animals, or open outdoor fires used in forest management, range improvement, or the improvement of land for wildlife and game habitat, wildland vegetation management, or disease or pest prevention; (2) open outdoor fires used in the operation or maintenance of a system for the delivery of water for the purpose specified in (2) of the definition. Section 41807 shall not apply to such burning.

B. Open Burning in Agricultural Operations in the Growing of Crops or Raising of Fowls or Animals Means:

  1. The burning in the open of materials produced wholly from operations in the growing and harvesting of crops or raising of fowls or animals for the primary purpose of making a profit, of providing a livelihood, or of conducting agricultural research or instruction by an educational institution; and

  2. In connection with operations qualifying under Subdivision 1:

  3. a. This also includes, for the purpose of cultural practice burns, the burning of fence rows and ditch banks for weed control and weed abatement, and burning in nontillage orchard operations.

    b. The burning of material not produced wholly from such operations, but which are intimately related to the growing or harvesting of crops and which are used in the field, except as prohibited by District regulations. Examples are trays for drying raisins, and pesticide and fertilizer sacks which are emptied in the field.

C. Range Improvement Burning: means the use of open fires to remove vegetation for a wildlife, game or livestock habitat or for the initial establishment of an agricultural practice on previously uncultivated land.

D. Forest Management Burning: means the use open fires, as part of a forest management practice, to remove forest debris. Forest management practices include timber operations, silvicultural practices or forest protection practices.

E. Brush Treated: means that the material to be burned has been felled, crushed or uprooted with mechanical equipment, or has been desiccated with herbicides, or is dead.

F. Timber Operations: means cutting or removal of timber or other forest vegetation for the purpose of producing commercial forest products.

G. Silviculture: means the establishment, development, care and reproduction of stands of timber.

H. Board: means the State Air Resources Board, or any person authorized to act on its behalf.

I. Designated Agency: means any agency designated by the Board as having authority to issue agricultural burning permits. The U.S. Forest Service and the California Division of Forestry are so designated within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

J. No-Burn Day: means any day on which agricultural burning is prohibited by the Board or by a District.

K. Permissive-Burn Day: means any day on which agricultural burning is not prohibited by the Board.

L. District: means the Air Pollution Control District of Kern County.

M. Approved Ignition Devices: includes those instruments or materials that will ignite agricultural waste without the production of black smoke by the ignition device. This would include such items as liquid petroleum gas, butane, propane or diesel oil burners and flares, but does not include the use of tires, tar paper, oil, and other similar materials.

N. Wildlife Vegetation Management Burning: means the use of prescribed burning conducted by a public agency, or through a cooperative agreement or contract involving a public agency to burn land predominantly covered with chaparral (as defined in Title 14, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Section 1561.1), trees, grass or standing brush.

O. Prescribed Burning: means the planned application of fire to vegetation on lands selected in advance of such application, where any of the proposes of the burning are specified in the definition of agricultural burning as set forth in Health and Safety Code Section 39011.

II. Prohibitions - General

A. No person shall knowingly set or permit agricultural burning unless he has a valid permit from the fire control agency designated by the Air Pollution Control Board to issue such permits in the area where the agricultural burn will take place.

  1. Each fire control agency so designated by the Board shall issue agricultural burning permits subject to the Rules and Regulations of the Board and the District.

B. A permit shall not be issued to an applicant unless information is provided as required by the designated fire protection agency for fire protection purposes.

C. A permit shall not be issued to an applicant unless information is provided as required by the District.

D. No burn shall be conducted unless a notice of intent is given by the permittee to the fire control agency having jurisdiction over the site of the proposed burn.

E. A permit shall not be valid for any day during a period in which agricultural burning is prohibited by the Board or by a District.

  1. Upon request from a permittee through a designated agency, seven days in advance of a specific range improvement burn, forest management burn, or wildland vegetation management burn, at any elevation below 6,000 ft. means sea level (msl), a permissive-burn or no-burn notice will be issued by the State Board up to 48 hours prior to the date scheduled for the burn. Without further request, a daily notice will continue to be issued until a permissive-burn notice is issued.

  2. Notwithstanding Subdivision (c) of Section 80110, the State Board may cancel permissive-burn notices that have been issued more than 24 hours in advance if the cancellation is necessary to maintain suitable air quality.

  3. A permissive-burn or no-burn advisory outlook will be available up to 72 hours in advance of burns specified in Subdivision (c) of Section 80110, Title 17, CFR.

F. A permit shall not be valid for any day in which burning is prohibited by the designated fire control agency having jurisdiction over the site of the burn for the purposes of fire control or prevention.

G. No material shall be burned unless it is free of tires, rubbish, tar paper, construction debris, used pesticide containers except sacks, and any material that is not produced in any agricultural operation.

H. Material stacked for burning shall not be burned unless it is loosely stacked in such a manner as to promote drying and insure combustion with a minimum of smoke production.

I. Material shall not be burned unless it is free of excessive dirt, soil, and visible surface moisture.

J. No material to be burned shall be ignited with an unapproved ignition device.

K. Material shall not be burned unless is has been allowed to dry for the following minimum time periods:

  1. Open burning in agriculture operations:

  2. a. Rice Stubble: See Section III.B.

    b. Dry Cereals: 0 Days

    c. Prunings & Small Branches: 3 Weeks

    d. Large Branches & Trees: 6 Weeks

  3. Range improvement burning: See Section IV.B.

  4. Forest management burning: See Section V.B.

L. No material shall be burned except during daylight hours, and all burning shall be terminated by sunset of each day. No material shall be added to an existing fire after 5:00 P.M., Pacific Standard Time, (unless an exception has been granted).

M. No agricultural burning shall be permitted which will create a nuisance as defined in Section 41700 of the California State Health and Safety Code.

N. All burning shall be ignited as rapidly as practicable within applicable fire control restrictions.

O. The Air Pollution Control Officer may restrict agricultural burning to selected permittees on designated Burn Days if the total tonnage to be ignited would discharge a volume of contaminants into the atmosphere sufficient to cause adverse conditions.

III. Prohibitions - Field Crop Burning

A. All rice harvesting shall employ a mechanical straw spreader to ensure even distribution of the straw with the following exception:

  1. Rice straw may be left in rows provided it meets drying time criteria prior to a burn as described in Section B below.

B. After harvest:

  1. No spread rice straw shall be burned prior to a three day drying period.

  2. No rowed rice straw shall be burned prior to a ten-day drying period.

  3. Sections 1 and 2 above do not apply if the rice straw makes an audible crackle when tested just prior to burning with the testing method described in Section 4 of these provisions.

  4. When checking the field for moisture, a composite sample of straw from under the mat, in the center of the mat, and from different areas of the field shall be taken to insure a representative sample. A handful of straw from each area will give a good indication. Rice straw is dry enough to burn if a handful of straw selected as described above crackles when it is bent sharply.

  5. After a rain exceeding 0.15 inch (fifteen hundredths of an inch), notwithstanding 1 and 2 above, rice straw shall not be burned unless the straw makes an audible crackle when tested just prior to burning with the testing method described in Section 4 above.

C. Rice, barley, oat and wheat straw shall be ignited only by strip-firing into-the-wind or by backfiring except under a special permit of the District issued when and where extreme fire hazards are declared by a public fire protection agency to exist, or where crops are determined not to lend themselves to these techniques.

D. No field crop burning shall commence before 10:00 a.m. nor after 5:00 p.m. of any day.

IV. Prohibitions - Range Improvement Burning

A. Between January 1 and May 31, range improvement burning may be conducted by permit on a No-Burn Day, providing that more than 50 percent of the land has been brush treated.

Notwithstanding the provisions in Subdivision A of this Section, the Board may prohibit range improvement burning during the period designated by the District if in the opinion of the Board, such prohibition is required for the maintenance of suitable air quality.

B. No brush or unwanted trees shall be burned unless it has been brush treated at least six months prior to the burn, provided that it is economically and technically feasible.

C. If the burning is to be done primarily for improvement of land for wildlife and game habitat, no permit shall be issued unless the applicant has filed with the District a statement from the Department of Fish and Game certifying that the burn is desirable and proper. The Department of Fish and Game may specify the amount of brush treatment required.

V. Prohibitions - Forest Management Burning

A. Unless good silvicultural practice dictates otherwise, material shall not be burned until it has been windrowed or piled where possible.

B. Material shall be dried as required by agency issuing the permit.

VI. Exceptions

A. Exception to Rule II.E. and II.L.: The Air Pollution Control Officer may grant an exception to allow burning on a No-Burn Day so designated by the Board, and in certain situations to allow burning to continue past sunset of each day if denial of such permit would threaten imminent and substantial economic loss. In authorizing such burning, a District shall limit the amount of acreage which can be burned on any one day to 250 acres and only authorize burning when downwind metropolitan areas are forecasted by the Air Resources Board to achieve the ambient air quality standards.

B. Empty sacks which contained pesticides may be burned on a No-Burn Day providing the sacks are within the definition of "open burning in agricultural operations in the growing of crops or raising of fowls or animals."

C. Open burning in agricultural operations in the growing of crops or raising of fowls or animals at altitudes above 3,000 feet mean sea level is exempt from Rule 417.1 II.E.

D. Agricultural burning in areas at latitudes above 6,000 feet mean sea level is exempt from Rule 417.1II.E.

VII. Prohibitions - Wildland Vegetation Management


A. This Rule applies to all burning which meets the definition as stated in (General Definitions), regardless of whether such burning also meets another definition within this Rule.

B. Persons engaged in Wildland Vegetation Management Burning shall comply with the following Subsections of this Rule:

  1. II. G.
  2. II. H.
  3. II. J.
  4. II.M.
  5. II.N.
  6. II.O.

C. The APCO shall regulate the total acreage or tonnage of vegetation that may be burned each day within the District.

D. For projects exceeding the quantity of material specified in item VII.C., or for projects situated in designated zones specified by the APCO, the following information must be provided to the District for review and approval in advance of the proposed burning:

  1. location and specific objectives of the burn project;

  2. acreage or tonnage, type, and arrangement of vegetation to be burned;

  3. directions and distances to nearby sensitive receptor areas;

  4. fuel condition, combustion, and meteorological prescription elements developed for the project;

  5. projected schedule and duration of project ignition, combustion, and burndown;

  6. specifications for monitoring and verifying critical project parameters, and

  7. specifications for disseminating project information.

VIII. Penalty

A. A violation of the provisions of these Rules and Regulations is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the County Jail not exceeding six (6) months or by fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or both, and the cost of putting out the fire. Every day during any portion of which such violation occurs constitutes a separate offense.