‘This is a tool in the toolbox for small communities to deal with increasing costs and fire dangers brought on by a complete ban on outdoor burning,’ says Rep. Short
Stevens County Commissioner Larry Guenther joined Lake Spokane residents Dave Heckenlively and Gary Holmes last week in Olympia to testify in favor of legislation allowing limited outdoor burning for small communities.
"We have some very specific unincorporated communities that could really benefit by allowing a small window of outdoor burning," Guenther said. "The Lake Spokane community, with their abundance of pine needles, is continually facing higher costs to remove and clean up the debris — not to mention the escalating fire dangers associated with the accumulation of dry pine needles on the ground."
Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, met with the group and said she supports the legislation and would work with her colleagues in the Legislature to help them better understand the issue.
"It’s becoming very obvious that the issues we face in our Eastern Washington communities are vastly different than what King County and Puget Sound communities face," said Short. "If I mention that we have an abundance of dry pine needles on the ground that pose a fire hazard and cost money to remove, I get incredulous blank stares in return."
House Bill 1987 would allow outdoor burning of organic material on the first and third Saturdays in November by small communities with a population of 10,000 people or less. Outdoor burning would not be allowed if county regulations or air quality conditions stipulate otherwise. If a proposed burn day is cancelled due to weather conditions, a reschedule of the appointed day would be allowed.
"We’re not talking about opening the door to widespread, whole-scale outdoor burning," said Short. "This legislation creates a very narrow burn window under specific definitions.
"The outdoor burning ban has created increased hardships," Short said. "I view this as another tool in the toolbox for small communities to deal with increasing costs and fire dangers brought on by a complete ban on outdoor burning."
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