Orofino,Idaho-Window on the Clearwater
Traditional news Today's technology

Public asked to refrain from nonessential open burning

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) and the Nez Perce Tribe on their reservation remind the public to refrain from all nonessential open burning activities as communities respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 affects the respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs) and gastrointestinal system. It can cause asthma attacks and can lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress. People with asthma are recommended to avoid asthma triggers such as smoke from burning wood or other plants.

To avoid additional health impacts, the public should take standard preventative measures to protect their health from smoke exposure and refrain from residential open burning (tree limbs, leaves, yard trimmings, garden waste, burn barrels and fire pits) and other nonessential open burning activities until further notice. If open burning is essential, please follow best smoke management practices.

Smoke from open burning can cause unnecessary public health and safety concerns and impact local service providers:

  • Smoke inhalation can cause upper respiratory symptoms, which could be incorrectly attributed to COVID-19.
  • Smoke exposure impacts can lead to unnecessary testing or self-isolation.
  • First responders and other emergency services are operating at a reduced capacity and have limited resources to respond to out-of-control burns.
  • Personal protective equipment to reduce smoke exposure is not readily available at this time.

Local officials may have already prohibited open burning in certain areas. Prior to burning, contact the local fire agency and visit https://www2.deq.idaho.gov/air/AQIPublic/Map/OutdoorBurn to verify open burning is allowed.

DEQ, IDL, DHW and the Tribe encourage the public to use alternative burning options:

  • Lawn mulching-Leave grass clippings on the lawn to add nutrients back into the soil and improve lawn health.
  • Composting-Compost yard waste to recycle organic material and add nutrients back into the soil.
  • Chipping-Add chipped brush, pruning, or wood waste to the compost pile or soil to increase nutrient content.
  • Curbside pickup-Collect and separate yard waste, organic material, and recyclables and set out for curbside collection. Check with the local government or waste management company for local services.
  • Landfills-Many landfills offer free or reduced fees for yard waste.

Those who must burn on the Nez Perce Reservation, please ensure that you:

  • Have an approved Nez Perce Tribe Air Quality Burn Permit and any other necessary fire safety approvals.
  • Have appropriate fire safety measures in place to prevent escaped fire.
  • Do not impact people with smoke.

If conditions warrant, the Nez Perce Tribe may determine it is necessary to issue a burn ban. If so, notice of such burn ban will be given at that time.

Nez Perce Tribe Air Quality Program--208-843-9381| 1-800-720-4089 | airquality@nezperce.org

See the following websites for additional information:

Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: (208) 476-0733
Fax: (208) 476-4140