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Oregon OKs new smoke rules to allow more prescribed burns


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has approved new smoke rules for the state that will allow more planned burns that reduce wildfire risk by getting rid of underbrush and dead trees.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that the rules approved Thursday are a tradeoff between having some smoke drift into communities during the winter months and the potential for devastating wildfires in the summer.

On the color-based system used for air quality alerts, the cutoff would now be within the yellow or “moderate” category.

The rules also designate limits for the 24-hour average of smoke in communities.

The new rules apply to public and private landowners and burning on industrial timberlands.

The new state standards still fall within federal guidelines.

Communities interested in promoting prescribed burns will also be able to apply to state regulators for exemptions to occasionally allow higher hourly smoke totals, which would provide even more flexibility.

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