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Air quality MOU with Collins sawmill signed

Lake County’s Board of Commissioners recently signed an air quality-related memorandum of understanding with Collins Timber Company, LLC, Lake County, the Town of Lakeview and Oregon Department of Forestry.

The MOU follows a parallel document previously signed with the U.S. Forest Service last year in which Collins agrees to not perform prescribed burn activities on red or yellow days during the air quality season between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28 of each year.

The purpose and intent of these MOUs is to aid in the reduction of PM 2.5 particulate matter emissions in the Lakeview airshed.

DEQ officials recently met with local town and county representatives during the June 18 commissioners meeting.  At that time, discussion focused on the PM Advance air quality management plan, currently in the draft stage, which has been developed to bring Lakeview’s air quality into compliance with federal EPA standards.

Speaking on behalf of DEQ, Larry Calkins and Kelly Potter brought forth requests for the Town and County to consider endorsing the draft PM Advance Plan’s action items and to give the DEQ the authority to move forward with a public hearing process for an air quality ordinance.

Potter noted this was important for allowing the plan’s implementation prior to the Sept. 30 deadline for submission to the EPA.

Potter also offered kudos to the Lakeview community in light of the level of local public input involved with developing the plan.

Commissioner Dan Shoun voiced his support for Congressional recognition of the need for forestland management as a preventative measure in avoiding wildfires contribution to the air quality issue.

‘We’re not going to move the town, and we can’t do anything about the inversions,” he said.

Guest Frank Vaughn expressed skepticism to the science behind the means through which local PM 2.5 emissions are monitored. Calkins explained the process, noting that collected filtered air is analyzed in Portland for specific concentration data.

Concerns raised by Commissioner Brad Winters included such proposed long-term strategies as a future ordinance disallowing woodstove replacement installations five years in the future and a requesting the federal agencies to quit issuing firewood permits.

Winters believed both strategies as unfeasible due to the size of the county and the fact that firewood availability off the forests serves as a management tool.

Potter noted that the report needs to indicate that this list of future strategies is not an implemented component and open to future discussions.

Town of Lakeview Mgr. Ray Simms noted that the firewood proposal was included around promoting the actual costs associated with obtaining firewood.

Simms said that it is not as cheap a resource as one might think, once vehicle fuel and other transportation costs are factored into its acquisition.

Calkins suggested inclusion of a caveat that these ideas have been discussed but not approved by the PM Advance committee.

Commissioner Dan Shoun suggested unfeasible strategies shouldn’t be included in the report so as to avoid any kind of public misconceptions of their potential implementation.

Guest Chris Zinda said he felt a conflict exists between local industry and efforts to mitigate impacts of industry.  The PM Advance Plan, he said, calls for a 30 percent increase in permitted industrial emission contributions and 30 percent decrease in residential sources.

Zinda also said that, other than prescribed burning, the plan does not address local industry’s contributions to the emissions issue. Other concerns include the PM Advance program’s design for communities “on the edge” of air quality non-compliance, he said, noting Lakeview has fallen beyond this threshold.

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