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Winter burning ban extended.

Byline: Christian Wihtol The Register-Guard

March 1 is traditionally the date when many Lane County residents whip out some matches and set fire to the brush piles they've accumulated from months of outdoor work over the winter.

But the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency is telling many of those residents in the Eugene-Springfield metro area that they need to hold off for a while because the calm weather means many fires now would create smoky skies and health hazards.

The temporary continuation of the wintertime burning ban affects only some parts of the metro area: all of Springfield, plus all the areas outside the city limits of Eugene and Springfield but within the urban growth boundaries of the two cities, and the city of Oakridge, according to LRAPA. The temporary ban doesn't affect rural areas outside of the growth boundaries, where open burning is allowed from March 1 through June 16, when the countywide summer burning ban kicks in.

Open burning already is banned year-round in the Eugene city limits and in Florence, LRAPA spokeswoman Sally Markos said.

Markos expects LRAPA will lift the temporary ban extension in the metro area on Sunday or Monday, when breezy, rainy weather is expected to move in.

"We're waiting for a storm system to come through," Markos said. "Normally, that will have enough wind to pick the smoke up and move it out quickly."

If residents were to set their burn piles ablaze in the current still air, a lot of the smoke would remain at ground level in the neighborhoods around the burns, she said.

In Springfield, burning is banned year-round on properties smaller than half an acre, but it usually is allowed after March 1 on properties larger than half an acre. But not this year, because of LRAPA's ban extension.

Burn piles in the metro area typically consist of tree and shrub trimmings stockpiled during winter, Markos said.

LRAPA doesn't allow burning of leaves or grass clippings anywhere, however, because they typically generate a lot of smoke, she said.

The agency can and does fine persistent violators whom the agency previously has warned, she said.

To see when LRAPA lifts the temporary ban extension, visit www.lrapa.org or call the agency at 541-726-3976.
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Title Annotation:Environment; Stagnant skies force a delay to backyard burns in Springfield, Oakridge and some suburban areas
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 2, 2013
Words:374
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