Up in smoke - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Up in smoke

State: Prairie field burning left more surface smoke than hoped

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Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 12:15 am

RATHDRUM - Annual field burning on the Rathdrum Prairie got off to a smokey start on Tuesday afternoon, but state officials were confident evening winds would carry away lingering smoke.

About 220 acres of Kentucky bluegrass in the area of Lancaster and Huetter roads were burned, leaving 150 registered acres on the prairie to be burned.

"It didn't go as well as we had hoped," said Mark Boyle, air quality manager with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. "We had some surface smoke - something we try to avoid as much as possible. It leaves room for improvement."

However, Boyle was optimistic that the predicted evening winds would clear off any remaining smoke.

"A good scouring wind should ventilate it out," he said.

IDEQ manages the crop residue burning program throughout the state except for on Indian reservations. Growers must obtain IDEQ approval to burn. Burn days are limited to weekdays during daylight hours only.

Field burning increases yields for growers the following year, but the practice is criticized by some environmentalists and those with breathing difficulties.

Conditions must be dry and have transport winds before the state allows burning. The hope is that the smoke will rise and be carried out of the area with wind, causing minimal impacts on residents.

A resident who lives off Prairie Avenue was the first to complain about Tuesday's burn, Boyle said.

"He was disappointed that we were adding to the smoke in the sky already (from regional wildfires)," Boyle said. "I explained that conditions had improved and that evening winds were predicted and expected to help."

Boyle expected the state's complaint hotline to get more calls late in the day.

"They're probably justified with the smoke that we had on the ground," he said.

Boyle said it's unclear when the remaining acres on the prairie will be burned because it's a day-to-day decision based on the weather and other conditions.

"It's a tough thing to do because once you put the smoke in the air, you're counting on all the information you gathered to make the decision to come through," said Boyle, adding that much of the burn decisions are based on forecasts and experience.

Meanwhile, on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, 96 acres were burned on Aug. 3. No burning has taken place since then because the weather has not cooperated and due to lingering regional wildfire smoke, said Heather Keen, tribal spokeswoman.

She said the Tribe's smoke management team tries to minimize the effects of field burning smoke on residents as much as possible.

The total acres to be burned this year won't be determined until harvest is done, she said. The acreage is different each year.

"The rain and weather throughout spring and early summer led to late crops and a late harvest," she said.

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  • HeidMe posted at 3:40 am on Fri, Mar 28, 2014.

    HeidMe Posts: 1

    My family lives close to there and we've been experiencing very serious symptoms. We just moved to this place a year ago and had no idea it would be this bad. I have an autoimmune disorder and everything hits me hard but when I went to the dr he said I was experiencing inhaled pesticide poisoning. Just a heads up.

  • Hiway 90 posted at 9:19 am on Fri, Sep 7, 2012.

    Hiway 90 Posts: 10

    With todays scientific knowledge, to allow this air pollution to go on every year is not acceptable.
    There are other ways to manage the prairie that do not affect everyones air quality,
    but like cigaette smoking, this backwards state still allows it to go on nearly everywhere, unchecked, for everyone to still enjoy, because thats the way it's always been.
    I like how they claim a nice wind will clear it out! Clear it out to where? Canada,Montana, Washington, for them to smell it?
    Clear it out, to ad to all the other fires smoke throughout the state to make one continuous haze in the air?
    Quit living in the past, live in the present, take care of the air,the waters, the land, its all we have. Ban burning, ban public smoking...
    Grow up Idaho.

  • will-- posted at 9:14 am on Fri, Aug 31, 2012.

    will-- Posts: 960

    "Oregon issued a moratorium..."

    Who cares what Oregon does. They are a cousin to the Socialist Rebublic of Kalifornia.

  • Little A posted at 10:37 pm on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    Little A Posts: 7

    Northidahonative - If you truly are a native, then you have known, for years, that field burning goes on every year. If it truly is that bad, why do you continue to live here? I am a transplant and have accepted it.

  • local res posted at 9:07 pm on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    when all the farmers burned their fields we had less overall pollution emitted than today. Increased population = more cars + more business traffic.

  • efromm posted at 6:09 pm on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    efromm Posts: 679

    Really people are complaining still? For real? It's funny but people move to an area then tell everyone how backward and un cultured they are. Did they really look into where they were living? Man I wish I could go back in time. It was sure nice with all that smoke and NO ONE HERE! lol....

  • northidahonative posted at 5:20 pm on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    northidahonative Posts: 1164

    I always find it funny when the "individual rights" Republicans of North Idaho defend the people who drive others from their homes in order to increase their profits. Fewer people are effected today than 15 years ago, but none of those driven from their homes by Meyer's smoke have the same right as Meyer, if I were to pile up all my pine needles, leaves, grass clippings, etc. and burn them in my back yard allowing the smoke to drive my neighbors from their houses I would be fined or arrested, maybe both, even though burning "increases my profit" by not spending the money for gas to take them to the dump.

    Little A, show me where you get your "facts" about the emissions of one car compared to the smoke created when burning more than 200 acres, the results should be for the same period of time as it took to burn the fields. The State uses a 24 hour period to determine the particulates in the air, as I told the "authorities" years ago, the particulates may no be too bad over a 24 hour period, but the measurement should include the maximum for even a short period, it's hard to hold your breath for the hours it takes the smoke to clear, especially when your eyes are burning. A person could probably hold his breath under water for an hour or more during a 24 hour period, but they can't hold it for an hour or two at a time.

    Other grass growers have found ways to grow grass without burning, too bad Meyer is incapable of learning any "new" ways.

  • Little A posted at 11:41 am on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    Little A Posts: 7

    Old Hayden - For the sake of your health, I hope you don't own a car. They emit more toxins than field burning.

  • Little A posted at 11:39 am on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    Little A Posts: 7

    Old Hayde

  • Jullee posted at 11:10 am on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    Jullee Posts: 540

    I would rather the farmers burn for a few weeks than the endless emissions from cars and the pollutants that roads and fertilizers on lawns go into our aquifer.
    The prairie is a beautiful place that is open not filled with housing suburbs with more traffic
    that pollute everyday. If you want that move to the city.

  • Old Hayden posted at 8:01 am on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    Old Hayden Posts: 32

    Field burning is a health hazard PLAIN & SIMPLE! Oregon issued a moratorium on field burning following extensive research on the issue. Only here in anti-science Idaho is the state government advocating for field burning. All elected officials should be required to take an oath to do no harm!

  • Little A posted at 6:37 am on Thu, Aug 30, 2012.

    Little A Posts: 7

    For all you complainers - we were outside on Tuesday when the burning was going on, we ere able to see the thick smoke, and smell it. My mother, who has very bad allergies, was visiting and was shocked to see the amount of smoke in the air. When I was explaining to her what it was, she did not seem concerned about her allergies, and she did not have any reaction to the smoke. You know this happens every year. Take measures to be prepared when it does happen.

  • Veeeee posted at 9:12 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    Veeeee Posts: 401

    Field burning should be banned. Thank you.

  • Nam trung posted at 8:12 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    Nam trung Posts: 7

    96 acres burn in just 3 hours could not believe it .....

  • yourneighbor posted at 7:09 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    yourneighbor Posts: 224

    Hey now careful what we say, just might make someone mad.lol Oh yea I live on the lake and didn't smell or see a thing. Thats my 2moro cents...

  • ProIdaho posted at 6:12 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    ProIdaho Posts: 255

    Every year an article come out about the field burning and every year someone complains about the "icky, nasty" smoke that probably irritates a person in their house with allergies or asthma.

    Funny thing is, the complainers have essentially got their way, but they still complain. 10-15 years ago almost 3000 acres were burned each fall. Now only a couple hundred acres are burned but it still isn't good enough.

    I wonder if these people care about the massive amount of car polution, garbage, traffic and other unknown consequences that urban sprawl has created?

  • Ziggy posted at 4:30 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1177

    Truth is, all of those cars on the prairie tied to the subdivisions put out tons and tons and tons more air pollution per year than the grassfields ever did. it's just that you can SEE the grassburning, but all that ozone is pretty well invisible. One of these days we will ding the EPA standard and that will usher in vehicle inspections, etc.

  • chilada01 posted at 4:09 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    chilada01 Posts: 170

    Move your Daughter who has allergies to the prairie just because it's "lil bit cheaper"? Crazy things some people do. Not trying to pick sides but saying " my daughter is alergic to just about everything" sounds kinda severe to me. I will let you two battle it out, I just wanted to put my 2 cents in.

  • Grrrrr posted at 3:41 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    Grrrrr Posts: 51

    Hey? Wasn't that horse in a picture like two months ago when it rained some sort of crazy amount? Just goes to show it's not what you know.....

    Anyway, I thought we used to get warnings when the grass was going to be burned.You know, so we could prepare ....or......LEAVE TOWN for 2 days...(hint hint.. my2sence).
    Even KREM 2 had a reporter freaking out about the smoke on Facebook.

  • My2sence posted at 3:33 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    haha, I haven't even begun to "start something", are we 8 years old again? "severe" when did I say severe? I said "alergic to just about everything" I guess I should have been more specific for ya, (I guess maybe I was over exaggerating a tad) I'll clarify...airborne pollens/smoke, animal dander, bee stings, & cleaning her room are what I meant. So "severe" is not a category she fit's into, just so ya know.
    And yes, two years ago housing WAS a lil bit cheaper in Rathdrum, your welcome.

  • ProIdaho posted at 3:15 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    ProIdaho Posts: 255

    I would rather take two days of field burning vs. Thousands of homes and development on the praire.......oh wait that has already happened.

  • livinlarge posted at 2:53 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    livinlarge Posts: 29

    Don't go starting something you can't finish, First of all thank you for the spell check, and I never said anything about living in a dream house on the lake, I was just not understanding why you would move closer to the the fields if you have a child with such severe allergies. So you set me straight by informing me the cost of living is cheaper in Rathdrum. Thank you for the education and please climb back under that rock that you came from. Here is a great idea try holding your breath, after all it is only for "2 days" right?

  • My2sence posted at 2:33 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    ....and after all, it is only for "2 days" right?

  • My2sence posted at 2:32 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    "We all have a choise on where we want to live"...NO not really, I "want" to live on the lake....I "have" to live where my income allows me to, it would be nice though huh? and AGAIN, doesn't matter where you live, the smoke will be there...yup, even my dream house on the lake.
    *choice, not "choise"

  • livinlarge posted at 12:10 pm on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    livinlarge Posts: 29

    My2sence so let me see if I got this right. Your daughter has severe allergies. The smoke affected her in CDA . So you move closer to the source? I don't know about you but my children mean the WORLD to me and at no cost would I have done what you did. We all have a choise on where we want to live.

  • My2sence posted at 11:07 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    I know field burning is necessary, but I don't appreciate the "like it or leave it" attitude crammed down my throat.

  • My2sence posted at 10:25 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    My2sence Posts: 317

    Really cntrygrl, you have a real whiney tone to your comment too, "they get blamed for everything" whaaa, and I'm sure folks don't actually stop their cars on Huetter "walk" through the field "flag down" the combine driver and "complain" to him/her right there on his property that "dust" is bothering them, that's the way you make it sound....with your 4 year old whiney tone. And don't try to under exaggerate it "dust" Really? try plumes of dirt blanketing all the prairie..."dust" ha, Every year this topic comes up your the first one to tell us all to "move" and if wasn't for the farmers...blah, blah, blah, it's only 2 days, we get it...your a farmers daughter...we get it!!
    "Farmer trying to make a living" how bout our elderly trying to live?
    2 days? under exaggerating again....2 days (so far)
    I live in Rathdrum, my sunrise photo is right out my back door, (soon to be filled with a city park) I got home last night at about 8:30 pm, not sure when burning was done, but it was still in the air, my daughter is alergic to just about everything, and so she was sneezing and had puffy eyes all night, benadryl only helps so much and NO, I will not move, last year we lived in CdA, West of Ramsey, guess what she still sneezed her head off & had puffy eyes, so it doesn't matter where you are, it effects everyone, I'm not complaing, I just feel compelled to put it to you straight, that's all

  • will-- posted at 9:08 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    will-- Posts: 960

    Field burning is the Idaho way. It's been around a lot longer that you newly transplanted complainers.

    Look outside this morning and you would never no what went on for a short time yesterday afternoon.

  • cntrygrl posted at 8:37 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    cntrygrl Posts: 10

    I agree with Cougar!! Field burning has been around for longer that most people have lived here! As for ruining your summer with their "mushroom clouds of brown choking smoke", it's only 2 days!! Sounds like a great day to go for a drive if you don't like it. I love it!! I would sure rather see fields burning on the prairie, than more obnoxious houses going up. I would also rather have beautiful green grass fields over dusty wheat fields anyday! Of course the farmer get the blame for everything anyway, even when they are plowing, people feel the need to stop them and complain about the dust getting in their homes from the farmer out trying to make a living! So I guess what I'm saying really is, It's 2 days, build a bridge and get over it!!

  • cougar posted at 8:21 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    cougar Posts: 230


    Here's one simple word for you " MOVE ! "

  • greyhound2 posted at 6:19 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    greyhound2 Posts: 805

    Yup. For the pleasant warm clear sunny days of late summer, its time for a handful of people to fill the air with mushroom clouds of brown choking smoke.

  • voxpop posted at 5:41 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Every year at this time I'm reminded of the annual grass growers lament that if they aren't allowed to burn they'll have to sell their land to developers. We all see how that went. But that's business for you - lies, damnlies, and statistics.

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