It seems very easy for some to look at the problem of air pollution and target folks that burn wood for warmth in the winter months. I believe most people burn responsibly when weather conditions permit and do so with the certified clean burning (EPA-approved) equipment. For those who don’t have upgraded equipment or can’t afford it, we need to help them find a remedy. Those who burn on “red burn” days need to be warned and then fined appropriately if they continue.
To just have an all-out ban on all wood burning is a knee-jerk reaction that would have many negative consequences. Some of those consequences are the negative impact on small businesses that sell and service related equipment such as EPA-certified stoves and inserts, chain saws, chain-saw accessories, log splitters, etc.
Most of us are aware that there are always unintended repercussions that follow hasty decisions. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (Heber-Kamas) Ranger District (#4) is most likely where most of the firewood comes from that is being used in the “no-burn” area being proposed.
In 2014 alone, there were 9,091 cords of dry timber removed from this area for firewood. Slightly over $50,000 was paid to the Forest Service for those woodcutting permits. For those who aren’t familiar with this area, unfortunately there has been a strong pine beetle infestation, so there is a tremendous amount of dead timber each year that needs to be harvested.
Please try to envision 9,091 cords of dry timber being left each year in this local forest over several years and what a tinder box we’d have for a lightning strike or a discarded cigarette. Hundreds of summer cabins and acres of beautiful camping and hiking trails have a much better chance of being destroyed by fire if this fuel is not removed each year and burned responsibly.
With this in mind (tongue in cheek), let’s first outlaw lightning and forest fires before we consider banning EPA-certified wood stoves that are used for warmth, especially when weather conditions permit.
We live in a bowl. When we have the right combination of atmospheric conditions, we will have an inversion no matter what. The best thing we can do during these periods is to limit any activity that would add pollutants to the trapped air. A “blanket” ban through the winter months on responsible wood burning that’s used for supplemental or primary heat is unreasonable, especially in light of the recent EPA declaration (“EPA declares good news for Utah’s annual pollution levels,” Dec. 19) that Utah is in compliance for annual levels of fine particulate pollution, or PM2.5.
Over-regulation by bureaucracies that are continually lobbied by well-funded (tax exempt) radical environmentalists will eventually be the death of freedom if we don’t stand together. I notice today that high-profile vehicles are not allowed on I-15 between Salt Lake and Ogden, which generally happens several times a year because of high winds. With the total ban on winter wood burning logic, UDOT would ban all high-profile traffic on the highway during this same period for safety reasons, regardless if the wind is blowing or not.
Mark McMillan Sr. is married, has a family and is a lifelong resident of Salt Lake County.