MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- The open burning season opened on March 1st for most residents in Lane County where burning was restricted from November 1st through the last day of February. Due to weather conditions, the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) has delayed the open burning season for some areas within the Eugene/Springfield Urban Growth Boundary and Oakridge.

LRAPA also recommends  resi-

dents call their local fire depart-ments for information regarding restrictions on burning in their areas before they burn. Burning is restricted on days when pollution rises into the moderate category or weather conditions may cause a build up of fine particulate from smoke. Willamette Valley residents should always call LRAPA’s open burning hotline, 541-726-3976, before burning to verify that burning is allowed on any given day. The advisories also have information about what time burning may begin and when fires must be out. The advisories are updated daily on the agency website, LRAPA.org.



March 1st also marked the end of LRAPA’s Home Wood Heating advisory season. The Eugene/Springfield and Oakridge home wood heating advisory season runs from November 1st through the last day of February.

The daily green, yellow, or red advisories let residents know when the use of wood stoves and fireplaces is allowed or when restrictions are needed to protect air quality. Although LRAPA will not be issuing daily advisories again until next November, residents are asked to remain cautious and minimize burning to help reduce the impact of smoke on the community.

“Even when we get spring-like weather, local air quality can still be impacted by smoke,” said Sally Markos, LRAPA spokesperson.

“There is still the possibility of cold night time temperatures and sometimes stagnant air. During these periods, we are likely to see air pollution levels rise when woodstove use is high.” Residents are encouraged to check the Air Quality Index at www.lrapa.org and refrain from burning when air quality is in the moderate or unhealthy range.

Residents who are allowed to open burn are reminded that burning only woody yard debris generated on their own residential property is allowed, and that all fires must be attended to and out by times determined by LRAPA. A first offense violation of LRAPA’s open burning rules may result in a $500 fine. More information can be found at http://www.lrapa.org/public_education/backyard_burning_program.php.

“LRAPA wants to remind residents that although burning may be allowed in their area, smoke from open burning exposes individuals to harmful pollutants, including particulates and air toxics. Smoke can travel quite a distance and impact large areas. The agency asks residents to dispose of debris by composting, chipping, or recycling whenever possible to avoid exposing themselves and others to harmful emissions,” said Markos.

LRAPA has seen the number of citizen complaints about backyard burning increase over the last four years. “People are becoming more aware of the health impacts from smoke and are less tolerant of open burning, even during the burning season. It’s a serious health concern for many people.” Said Markos.

Residents can dispose of yard debris for a minimal charge at several collection depots, including Lane County transfer sites at Glenwood, Lane Forest Products (541-345-9085) and Rexius (541-342-1835).

Things residents can do to reduce impacts from open burning:

* Keep piles covered and dry until ready to burn;

* Burn only woody debris;

* Use a chipper whenever possible, and burn only what is necessary; and

* Burn well within the property line away from other homes.

Likewise, the Department of Forestry reminds residents to follow safety precautions to prevent backyard

burn piles from escaping into wildfires. Residents are asked to:

* Clear a trail around the burn pile down to mineral soil;

* LRAPA rules require a supply of water handy at the site; and

* The burn site must be attended until the fire is completely extinguished.