New rules meant to reduce the impact of smoke from controlled forest burns are now in effect in Oregon.
The regulations may actually increase the amount of smoke some communities experience from controlled burns. The trade-off, according to supporters, should be less smoke from out-of-control wildfires during the hottest and driest times of year. Controlled burns often take place during wetter, cooler periods when fire is easier to manage.
The changes come after more than a year of public input and review. The rules require Oregon communities that are most likely to experience so-called “smoke intrusions” to develop plans on how to protect people such as young children and the elderly who are most vulnerable to harm from smoke. The plans would include a way of informing a community ahead of time when smoke is likely to drift into town.
“The rule revisions provide greater flexibility for those wanting to use controlled burns to improve the health of fire-adapted forestland,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Smoke Management Program Manager Nick Yonker in a press release. “And they should increase the opportunities for landowners to reduce wildfire risk near communities by thinning overcrowded forests and burning the woody debris.”