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Quality issues explained at Westside meeting

Local public officials and state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted a public informational meeting on air quality issues for Westside residents on Tuesday, April 8, at the Union School gymnasium.

There was some confusion on the meeting’s actual date and time addressed early on by a local resident.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to emphasize that additional mandated regulations would not be imposed on residents outside the urban growth boundary, Town Mgr. Ray Simms said.

Simms noted that the estimated border of the UGB includes Sunny Slope Lane to the north of Lakeview, Kadrmas Road to the south and east and the Lake County Road Shops to the west.

Simms, along with Lake County Commissioner Ken Kestner and DEQ Rep. Kelly Potter explained the PM Advance program, for which a local committee is developing an action plan to address air quality issues.

“There will be no boundaries outside the urban growth boundary in the plan,” Potter said.

The PM Advance committee is seeking voluntary compliance for residents in avoiding open burning on ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ air quality days, Potter said, as a ‘good neighbor’ approach.

Potter noted that the Town, County and Forest Service also entered into an agreement with a designated area in which prescribed burning will not be conducted on ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ days.

Kestner noted that the number one priority is avoiding a federal ‘non-attainment’ designation which will likely bring in EPA-mandated regulations and tighter restrictions on both existing and new industry.

Oregon Department of Forestry Protection Unit Forester Dustin Gustaveson said that additional restrictions, under such a designation, could include a redesignation of area forest lands with more restrictive mandates related to smoke management during open burning activities.

Potter noted that there is no expectation for the Westside residents to solve the Town of Lakeview’s problem.

Despite being naturally occurring events, air inversions are not allowed exemptions under the federal Clean Air Act, she said.

Information shared during the meeting also included how the local air quality is measured against the federal standard and how often the town has exceeded this standard.

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