To the Editor:
On Oct. 18 at 9:30 a.m. the National Weather Sevice in Pendleton issued an air quality alert for a stagnant air mass over much of the state. This alert was broadcast on television and weather channels. People were advised of dangerous levels of pollutants and also asked to limit wood stove burning where possible and to do no outdoor burning. The alert was lifted Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. During this air stagnation alert period, the U.S. Forest Service, in flagrant disregard of air quality and the health of citizens, continued to do prescribed burns throughout Grant and surrounding counties. After contacting three Department of Environmental Quality offices, the State Fire Marshal and the USFS in John Day, I learned the USFS does not ask permission to burn and has no oversight by any other agency. DEQ in Pendleton said they frequently burn when they shouldn’t and certainly should not have been burning during the period of poor air quality. DEQ urged citizens to make complaints. Forgive the pun, but we have not had any “breathing space” between the catastrophic wildfires this summer and the USFS prescribed burns. Complaints have already been filed with DEQ, EPA and the USFS Region 6 director. I urge more citizens to register their concerns with these agencies.
Patti Yellow Hand Bull