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Air Quality Issues— Part I

Most valleys have air quality problems in the winter months when conditions are ripe. Goose Lake valley is no exception. I was not present when there were five sawmills and several re-manufacturing plants operating in the Valley but I can imagine what the air quality was like in the winter months during that period in history. I am sure the wintertime are quality has improved dramatically since that period in time.

The newspaper articles have been stating the need to eliminate wood burning stoves and all open burning in all the Oregon portion of Goose Lake valley, with the justification of improving air quality. I do not agree! I realize both wood stove use and open burning need to be managed during periods of severe weather inversion but cannot agree with the push to eliminate both entirely.

Our Town of Lakeview and Lake County are totally dependent on utilization of our natural resources and have a long-standing history of such. People in this valley have been using firewood to heat their homes since settlement began. Burning wood is not only a necessity for many but also a form of recreation for the inhabitants of Goose Lake Valley. It is also a form of employment for many of the residents. I get very tired of hearing and reading of bureaucrats and environmentalists efforts to make the world perfect. It cannot be done. Nature is nature and we must learn to live with it as presented. Sure, we can make some improvements through managements but they are generally quite minor. I challenge them to make the inversion layers go away.

We are all concerned with the devastating effects of large forest fires, such as Barry Point, and the long-term effects of fires on our local economy and environment. Removal of dead trees in the form of firewood helps eliminate the potential for major forest fires. I have seen areas in our local forests choked with dead lodgepole pine turned into a park-like scene, with green trees remaining, in a few months just by the efforts of wood cutters obtaining firewood. It would have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish the same effect on a commercial basis.

 Gary L. Johnson

Lake County

Retired Forester

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