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Air Quality Group Protests Proposed Burn Forest Service Wants To Torch 6,600 Acres Along Asotin Creek

A U.S. Forest Service plan to ignite about 6,600 acres this fall has become a burning issue for a panel concerned with clean air.

The Lewis-Clark Valley Air Quality Advisory Commission said Friday the Pomeroy Ranger District plan threatens residents’ health and conflicts with federal efforts to apply more stringent air guidelines.

“We are concerned that such a prescribed burn may cause the valley to fall into noncompliance with the regulations of the Clean Air Act,” the commission said in reaction to a proposal from Mary Gibson, acting ranger at Pomeroy in Washington state.

The agency plans to burn along the North Fork of Asotin Creek in cooperation with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

The Forest Service wants to increase prescribed burns to reduce the threat of catastrophic fires roaring through choked vegetation.

The burn would take place in late fall, Gibson said, because the grasses are dormant, the trees are more fire-resistant and the debris on the forest floor will be dry and burn more completely.

Trying to burn in October, however, puts it into the time when the atmosphere is most likely to stagnate with smoke, the commission said.