Backyard burns are back

Spring open/backyard burning season begins March 1

LRAPA logoMarch 1st marks the beginning of the open/backyard burning season for areas where burning was prohibited from November 1st through the last day of February.
Although burning is now allowed, LRAPA is cautioning residents to hold off on burning storm debris until later in the spring. “Debris from the recent freezing rain event is still wet,” said Sally Markos, LRAPA spokesperson. “Burning wet debris, especially branches from fir, cedar, and other conifers will produce immense amounts of smoke that will impact air quality. Making small piles and letting them dry will help alleviate the problem.” LRAPA strongly encourages residents to use curbside yard debris recycling or take debris to a local forest products business rather than burn.
Residents are advised to call LRAPA’s open burning hotline, 541-726-3976 or check the LRAPA website, lrapa.org, for daily updates. Coastal residents can call 541-997-1757 for daily outdoor burning advisories.
LRAPA also recommends residents call their local fire departments or districts for information regarding restrictions on burning in their areas before they burn.
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 five years. Open burning complaints top all other complaints received by LRAPA. “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, Cottage Grove and Florence, 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.

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.