Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., and State Fire Marshal Butch Browning have declared a statewide burn ban.
The order was issued at 4 p.m. and will remain in effect until rescinded.
The burn ban was put in place after Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry firefighting crews responded to more than 30 wildland fires on Friday and Saturday. An estimated 1,000 acres of forestland has already burned over the two-day period.
LDAF fire reports for August-September period indicate 407 wildland fires burned more than 3,458 acres within the state. During the same period in Aug.-Sept. 2009, 56 fires burned 152 acres. The figures represent a 726 percent increase in wildland fires and a 2,270 percent increase in acreage burned.
Strain said large areas of Louisiana are measuring more than 600 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). A link to the KDBI website is listed on the LDAF website at www.ldaf.state.la.us. The KDBI measures soil moisture levels to an eight-inch depth and indicates the dryness of a land area.
“Any area over 600 on the KBDI map is very susceptible to wildfire,” Strain said. “All caution should be used when planning a controlled burn, outdoor cookout or using any outdoor flame.”
The LDAF extends wildfire detection and suppression services for 18.9 million acres. Of the 18.9 million acres, the LDAF only receives wildfire detection and suppression funding from landowners for 53 percent of the protected area.
The current ban shall not apply to prescribed burns by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, by those trained and certified by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, or by those who conduct prescribed burning as a “generally accepted agriculture practice” as defined by the Louisiana Right to Farm Law (R.S. 3:3601 et seq.).