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Community air quality meeting is Feb. 19

Local officials are looking to clear the air, in a quite literal manner of speaking.

Town and County air quality committee officials invite the public to the Lake County Senior Center for a public meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. to discuss a plan developed that addresses air quality issues.

Town Mgr. Ray Simms said that the meeting serves as a public outreach to discuss proposed plans that address improvement of Lakeview’s air quality.

While not presently a formally-designated area of non-attainment where PM 2.5 (particulate matter) is concerned, a developed plan looks to avoid this designation through a strategic five-year approach.

In the summer of 2013, a consortium of local governments, in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Quality, enrolled in the Environmental Protection Agency’s PM Advance program.

This program requires the local air quality committee to develop a five-year strategy detailing plans for meeting air quality standards.  It is a program specifically for communities that are not formally deemed as air quality non-attainment areas.

The local PM Advance committee, which last met on Tuesday, Feb. 11, has since developed its plan which is slated for submission to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before the end of March.

Simms said that the plan addresses areas within the County’s jurisdiction, including a ban on open burning outside the urban growth boundary between the dates of Nov. 1 and Feb. 28.

Historically, this is the time of year in which weather conditions often trap wood-burning smoke in the area through air inversions.

The Town of Lakeview currently has an ordinance addressing this time-specific ban on open burning within the Town boundary, Simms said.

The second component to the plan recommends institution of voluntary compliance of the daily red-yellow-green air quality advisories for a special protection zone, defined as the Goose Lake Valley on the Oregon side of the border.

There is no ban on open burning in this component, but it calls for voluntary compliance by residents within the SPZ.  This would effectively mean that residents would call in to the local emergency dispatch center to obtain a burn permit, which would be granted or not dependent upon air quality conditions that particular day.

The SPZ calls for an air quality management area which would encompass a rectangular-shaped zone encompassing the valley from the California border all the way north to Cox Creek, Simms said.  The east-west territory would take in the Goose Lake Valley, he said.

The exception to the territory, of course, would be areas defined by Oregon Department of Forestry as forestland, and falls under ODF’s management, Simms said, noting the foothills around Lakeview fall under this description.

The two steps to the plan include gathering public input through community meetings  and then identifying other measures that may be implemented into the plan.

For more information, contact Town Hall, located at 525 N. 1st St., at 541-947-2029.

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