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  • Dawn Stover posted an update in the group Group logo of Snowden Community GroupSnowden Community Group 6 months, 2 weeks ago

    Here is where you can find DNR’s Daily Smoke Management Approvals for Large Burn Silvicultural Prescribed Fires (click on SE Region to see those for our area): https://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/protection/burnrequests/. The “N” indicates that approval was not given today (because weather conditions were not favorable for smoke dispersion), but I’m still seeing a lot of smoke at my home.

    Under Washington’s Clean Air Act, any open fire (including slash burn piles) is considered unlawful when the smoke causes physical discomfort or health problems to people residing in the vicinity of the burning, or unreasonably prevents them from using and enjoying their property. It is the landowner’s responsibility to extinguish a fire that becomes an unlawful nuisance.

    • Here’s the DNR Smoke Management Plan: http://file.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_burn_smptoc.pdf

    • The DNR only has to give smoke approval if a landowner wants to burn over 99 tons of slash per harvest unit. Noone likes the controlled Burn smoke, understand that… But there’s food reason to reduce the log term fuel loading of our forests. Just look how much smoke and $ we’re consumed in the Eagle Creek fire. Also in WA and OR there are laws that called right to farm and forest that protect timberland owners by allowing active management activities. Finally, every single mature stand of timber you see around here has burned in the last 100 years, usually after a timber harvest and back in the old days it was much less controlled than now, much more smoke and risk to communities. Breathing a little smoke is unfortunately part of living in, around a healthy actively managed forest landscape on the east side of the Cascade mountains. A little smoke now will save us the Big One dlin the future.

      • That’s correct, the daily smoke approval is only for burns over 99 tons, equivalent to about 50 piles measuring 10×10 feet. However, burning less than 99 tons still requires a permit, and does not absolve a landowner from the responsibility to burn in a way that protects neighbors’ health (i.e. when weather conditions are conducive to smoke dispersion).

        I understand the thinking behind these burns, and I’m as concerned as anyone about wildfire. I know it’s a tricky matter, because the windows for burning are limited, and it’s easier for burns to get out of control on windy days. Nevertheless, slash burning needs to be carefully timed and managed. There is really no excuse for lighting up 99 tons on a day when the DNR has decreed that burning 100 tons is not allowed because of unacceptable impacts to air quality.

        Fuel loading is only one factor in fires. In our area, weather often plays a more important role. That was the case with the Eagle Creek fire, which was driven by hot, dry, windy conditions. And also for the Dry Creek fire north of White Salmon in July, which started in managed timberlands where slash burning is routinely practiced.

        In the future, I hope that landowners will move toward alternatives to slash burning that leave more material on the ground after harvesting—which is better for soil health, weed control, nutrient recycling, and moisture retention. These alternatives are currently more expensive, but that’s partly because the long-term economic benefits of reducing air pollution are not part of the equation. For example, about one in 12 Americans has asthma, and the numbers are going up; the cost to society was $56 billion in 2007 (the last time it was estimated).

        This is a complicated issue, and I appreciate hearing other perspectives on it. Thanks for your input, Jeremy.

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