Rathdrum Prairie grass farmers torched fields Thursday, sending smoke billowing off more than 600 acres.
The resulting haze elicited more than 70 complaint calls to the Idaho Division of Environmental Quality’s field-burning hot line. Callers to The Spokesman-Review complained of a wall of smoke near the Silver Lake Mall.
But there will be no burning again until Monday. A voluntary smoke management agreement among grass growers keeps the fires out Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Rathdrum Prairie growers had tentatively said they wouldn’t burn Thursday unless conditions were so perfect as to carry the smoke away from the Lake City. And “conditions are pretty perfect,” said Linda Clovis of the Intermountain Grass Growers Association, explaining the Thursday decision to burn.
Field burning is an annual practice that boosts seed production the following year and eliminates most pests and disease. The Rathdrum Prairie growers have burned about 5,000 acres and have another 3,000 left.
Growers on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation, meanwhile, have more than 10,000 acres to burn. Spokane County growers also have about 10,000 acres remaining.
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