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New farmers learn root-level basics at OSU’s farm school

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

OREGON CITY — He was speaking to a class of beginning beekeepers, but Joe Maresh’s advice probably could apply to all the prospective farmers who attended Oregon State University’s one-day Small Farms School:

“Take your stings.”

In other words, accept the fact that you will take your lumps in agriculture. But that doesn’t deter the people who continue to flock to OSU’s popular small farms programs. At least 175 registered for the Sept. 12 farm school workshops and demonstrations held at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City southeast of Portland.

Classes offered through the day ranged from horse and sheep handling and emergency veterinary care to pasture management, small engine basics and how to grow blueberries.

Maresh, president of the Portland Metro Beekeepers Association, led about 30 students through the basics of keeping pollinators and collecting honey.

Among his tips: Get into your hives frequently to see what’s going on, join a bee club and get one or two good beekeeping books, not a bunch.

“Avoid beekeeping on the Internet,” Maresh advised. “The Internet is not your friend.

“You can ask five different beekeepers a question,” he added, “and get eight different answers.”

Outside at the college’s expansive crop plots, Aaron Guffy of East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District talked irrigation basics with two dozen beginning farmers.

In a fast-paced discussion of screens, filters, pump pressure tanks and variable frequency drives, Guffy emphasized the need to focus on getting water from one place to another.

“Before you decide the beginning” of an irrigation system, he said, “decide the end.”

The turnout for farm school was indicative of the continued intense interest, especially in urban areas, about where food comes from and how it’s produced, said Garry Stephenson, director of OSU’s Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems.

That interest can energize agriculture as legions of baby boomer farmers near retirement age.

“We have a generation of people in their twenties and thirties who are interested in going into farming as a business and as a statement of how they see the world,” Stephenson said. “One of the hopes we have is that they will eventually scale up and become medium-size farms.”

Not all the farm school students were youngsters, however.

John Hergenrather, attending from Hood River, said he’s 70 and his wife, Rhea, is 65. They own a garden store and cafe, and recently bought an adjacent 6.5 acres on which they hope to grow food and plants to supply their business.

“We ask ourselves, ‘What are we doing becoming farmers now?’” Hergenrather said with a laugh. “Lord knows.”

Agency resumes killing cormorants to help salmon migration

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has resumed killing double-crested cormorants so the birds eat fewer juvenile salmon migrating down the Columbia River despite an ongoing legal battle with conservation groups.

The Oregonian reports that contracted workers shot 200 cormorants last week on East Sand Island as part of a program to reduce the size of North America’s biggest cormorant nesting colony by 57 percent over four years. The killings come after a nearly two-month break that allowed adult birds to take care of their hatchlings.

Since May the agency has killed 358 birds and oiled more than 5,000 nests to keep eggs from hatching.

Five conservation groups are challenging the killing in court. A U.S. District Court judge is expected to rule on the case in spring 2016.

Ranchers intervene in environmental lawsuit

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Six ranch families will be able to defend their livelihoods against an environmentalist lawsuit that challenges grazing in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest.

A federal judge recently allowed the ranch companies to intervene as defendants in a case filed earlier this year by three environmental groups — Oregon Natural Desert Association, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and Western Watersheds Project.

The plaintiffs claim the U.S. Forest Service unlawfully authorized grazing in the Sprague and Sycan river basins, allowing cattle to trample streambanks and damage the habitat of threatened bull trout and other native fish.

The complaint alleges violations of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

If the federal government’s grazing permits are invalidated, the ranchers fear the practice will be disallowed or restricted on allotments that they depend on for their income, according to court documents.

In some cases, the ranches have been operated by the same families for several generations, dating back to the 1800s, according to declarations filed by the families.

“It is, of course, in our own interest to make sure that the forage will be healthy and plentiful so we can continue to make use of our permitted animal unit months,” said Brenda Morgan, one of the intervening ranchers, in a court filing.

Darrell Jacobs of the Obenchain Cattle Co. said his ranch has voluntarily undertaken riparian conservation, such as building several ponds on private land to keep cattle away from streams.

Bar-2 Livestock, a family-owned company that runs about 1,000 cattle on private and public lands, noted that the entire 10-mile stretch of creek on its allotment has been fenced off from cattle.

The recent return of beavers in the Sycan River also points to the “upward trend and progression of rangeland health,” according to Daniel Withers, a rancher involved in the case.

Apart from the ranch companies, a firm associated with the J.R. Simplot agribusiness company also holds grazing permits in the area and was allowed to intervene as a defendant.

The parties in the case have agreed to file court documents arguing their positions in time for a court hearing next April.

Minimum hazelnut prices second-highest on record

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Oregon’s hazelnut growers didn’t expect a repeat of last year, when a disastrous freeze in Turkey brought record prices as candy, spread and snack makers chased replacement supplies.

But this season’s initial minimum price of $1.22 a pound for field-run hazelnuts, announced by the Hazelnut Growers Bargaining Association, is the second highest on record.

The starting price packers were willing to pay last year was $1.70 a pound, thanks to the freeze that decimated the world’s leading nut producing region, and the price jacked up to $1.81 by season’s end.

Oregon produces only 5 percent of the world supply, but is nonetheless the second-leading production area and was ready when buyers came calling.

Bargaining association President Doug Olsen said the 2015 starting price is fair, considering the circumstances.

“Everybody knew the price was going to come down,” Olsen said in a news release. “Last year’s was an anomaly.”

Turkey expects a good crop this year, while currency devaluations there and in China — a major buyer of Oregon hazelnuts — make American products more expensive by comparison.

In addition, an over-supply of walnuts gives end users another nut option, according to the bargaining association’s news release.

Oregon growers are projected to produce about 39,000 tons of hazelnuts this year. Willamette Valley growers have been adding 3,000 to 5,000 acres per year for several years running. In some cases, farmers have replaced grass seed or row crops with hazelnut orchards.

Josephine County won’t enforce GMO ban while lawsuit is pending

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Oregon’s Josephine County will not enforce its prohibition against genetically engineered crops while a farmer lawsuit against the ordinance is underway.

The county counsel, Wally Hicks, has notified the attorney for sugar beet growers Robert and Shelley Ann White that enforcement will be stayed as they seek to overturn the ban, which was passed by voters last year.

The couple contends that Oregon lawmakers pre-empted most local governments from regulating genetically modified organisms as part of a bill passed in 2013 and have requested a permanent injunction against Josephine County’s ban.

John DiLorenzo, attorney for the growers, said he agreed not to seek a temporary restraining order against the ordinance as long as the county consented to forgo enforcement.

“Both sides have to spend less time and less expense,” he said.

The situation would likely change if Josephine County does take action against biotech farmers before the lawsuit is resolved, he said.

“I could fire up again, but I take them at their word,” DiLorenzo said.

Biotech farmers were also required to report their crops, location and “phase-out” plans to the county sheriff, according to the notice. That reporting requirement is also stayed under the recent agreement.

In their lawsuit, the Whites claim they were planning to cultivate sugar beets in a leased field but were prevented from doing so when the county announced the GMO ban would go into effect on Sept. 4.

Josephine County’s decision, however, has not convinced the couple to plant transgenic sugar beets because they don’t want to place themselves “in harm’s way,” DiLorenzo said.

Farmers who do have genetically engineered crops, however, don’t have to worry about enforcement actions, he said.

Capital Press was unable to reach Wally Hicks of Josephine County for comment as of press time.

Mary Middleton, who petitioned for the GMO ban, said the county is likely being cautious while the case is being litigated.

“It’s unfortunate that’s the route, because the will of the people is that it would be enforced,” she said.

Voters in Oregon’s Jackson County also passed a prohibition against GMOs, but that ordinance is not subject to the state seed pre-emption bill.

The legislature exempted Jackson County from its pre-emption statute because the ordinance was already on the ballot when the state law was passed.

The Jackson County ordinance is also being challenged in federal court by several farmers.

Earlier this year, a federal judge found that the GMO ban is not precluded by Oregon’s “right to farm” law, which disallows ordinances and lawsuits against common farming practices.

However, the farmers in that case are still seeking $4.2 million in compensation from the county, as they’d have to remove their biotech alfalfa crops under the ordinance.

Enforcement of the Jackson County GMO has also been stayed until the lawsuit is closed.

Oregon mill is first certified to make cross-laminated timber

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND — Valerie Johnson acknowledges it’s been a wild ride. Just 22 months after hearing about cross-laminated timber panels, her D.R. Johnson mill in Southern Oregon is making them, has partnered with state money and university researchers, bought new equipment and appears poised for a breakout that many think could revitalize Oregon’s timber industry.

On Sept. 10 in Portland, Gov. Kate Brown announced D.R. Johnson is the first American company certified to make cross-laminated timber panels. Certification by the American Plywood Association and the American National Standards Institute assures the panels, called CLT, can be used in building construction.

Brown made the announcement at Best Fest, an annual conference that features clean-tech innovation. The conference organizer, Oregon BEST, is a quasi-public state agency that provides development grants and links entrepreneurs with a network of university researchers.

Oregon BEST provided $150,000 for CLT research at Oregon State University and will lend D.R. Johnson $100,000 for a new production line. The governor said the state is sponsoring a CLT design competition, with $200,000 in funding and services going to the winner.

Speaking from a podium made from cross-laminated timbers, Brown said she hopes the technology will “fuel the economic engine in rural Oregon.” Cross laminated panels are strong, cost competitive, much quicker than steel and concrete to install, aesthetically pleasing and made from a renewable resource, the governor said.

“We are perfectly suited for this work,” Brown said. “We grow the most desirable species. If this product is going to hit the market, it made more sense for it to emerge from our state than any other.”

Ethan Martin, an engineer with the industry group WoodWorks, said cross laminated timbers are “like Glulam (beams) and plywood got together and had a baby.”

The process can produce wooden panels 8- to 10-feet wide, up to 20 inches thick and 64 feet long, he said. Panels are formed by bonding layers of dimensional lumber such as two-by-fours.

They can be hauled to a construction site and quickly installed in a manner Martin and others jokingly compare to assembling products from Ikea, or like giant Legos.

The product’s environmental impact is much less than other construction methods, Martin said.

“Every other material exudes carbon, except wood,” he said. “Wood is the only product that sequesters carbon.”

CLT construction has been used for high-rise buildings in Europe and Canada, but is limited in the U.S. to six stories, Martin said. The limitations come from building laws adopted in 1899 and 1910 in response to tragic tenement fires.

Martin said that’s changing, and the technology is gaining acceptance. A 19-story wooden building is being designed in Portland, he said. A four-story commercial building, Albina Yard, is under construction in Portland and is the first project built with domestically produced CLT panels.

Valerie Johnson, who became co-owner of the family company after her father died, said the rapid CLT development has the business in a “euphoric” state.

D.R. Johnson, based in Riddle, Ore., south of Roseburg, produces Glulam beams, but had no experience with CLT panels. At this point, the company is producing panels that are 24 feet long, but plans to make longer ones as new equipment comes into play.

Johnson said of the company’s experienced Glulam employees have been reassigned to produce the panels, and people were hired to take the vacated spots. All told, the company has added five jobs so far due to CLT production.

Several project developers are showing strong interest in cross-laminated timbers, however, and the company may have to add a second shift to fill orders, Johnson said.

Winter El Nino outlook: Wet S. California, dry Northwest

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Forecasters say they are now confident that El Nino’s southern storms will boost rainfall this winter as far north as Sacramento in California, but the Pacific Northwest will likely be drier than normal.

Federal Climate Prediction Center officials said Sept. 10 there’s a 95 percent chance that strong El Nino conditions will persist through the winter before gradually weakening next spring.

During the winter, odds favor increased chances for above-normal precipitation across the southern part of the United States and up the East Coast, officials said.

But the inland Pacific Northwest should anticipate below-normal rainfall, while the Oregon and Washington coasts and much of Northern California have equal chances of above- or below-average precipitation, according to the CPC’s three-month winter outlook.

Temperatures throughout the West are expected to be higher than normal this winter, complicating chances for an abundant snowpack, according to the outlook.

“One thing to caution a little bit is that these are probabilistic forecasts,” Mike Halpert, the center’s deputy director, told reporters in a conference call. “We could be surprised.… There have been a couple of big El Ninos when I don’t think it was really dry anywhere across the country. Everywhere was above normal.

“But the most likely case (in the Northwest) is drier than average conditions,” he said.

El Nino is a warming of the ocean at the equator that interacts with the atmosphere, changing the jet stream that drives the winter storm track. There have been six previous El Nino periods since 1950, and this one has the potential to rate near the top in terms of strength.

Some scientists have characterized this El Nino as a “monster” or “Godzilla” storm track, predicting that it could produce the kind of wet winter that California saw in 1982-83 and 1997-98, when nearly double the state’s average precipitation fell.

However, Halpert said such descriptions are “not helpful” as state and federal officials have worked to tamp down expectations that this winter could end the drought. State Climatologist Michael Anderson reiterated Sept. 10 that past El Nino events have produced mixed results in Northern California, where key reservoirs are situated.

“The fact is that this coming winter could extend our record-dry weather or bring major storms, heavy precipitation and coastal storm surges or a combination of all,” Anderson said in a statement. “We must prepare by conserving water in our daily lives, as well as protecting property against the potential of heavy storms and local flooding.”

Though growers have held out hope that a wet winter will ease drought conditions, it would take as much as three times the average annual precipitation over the next year to make up the cumulative deficit of 71.5 inches of rainfall in the central Sierra Nevada since 2011, officials have said.

Still, a wet winter would be a big reprieve in the San Joaquin Valley, where growers denied their normal surface-water allocations have depleted aquifers to the point that the ground is sinking in many areas.

“As we enter a new water year on Oct. 1, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what that water year will bring,” said Kevin Werner, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s director of western regional climate services. “It’s entirely possible we could see continued drought across many areas of the West.”

Arrival of cool Oregon nights should help wine quality

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Unusually warm weather made for an early start to the wine grape harvest in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, and continued cool nights should assure quality is top notch, a research climatologist said.

Gregory Jones, a professor at Southern Oregon University who tracks the industry and specializes in how climate variability affects vine growth and wine production, said many growers are reporting the earliest harvest since 1992, or the earliest harvest ever at their vineyards.

Early ripening and sparkling wine varieties were the first picked, Jones said in an email newsletter he circulates to about 3,000 subscribers in the West.

“All other varieties are lining up for harvest but the recent shift to cool nights will allow for some timely queuing for flavors to develop,” Jones said in his Sept. 5 newsletter.

The unusually hot summer, of course, is the reason for an early harvest.

Average temperatures for August were one to four degrees above normal in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, Jones reported.

The increase in degree-day accumulation — the combination of heat and time required to complete a plant’s growth — was even more striking, especially in Oregon and Washington, Jones said.

Degree-day accumulation in both states as of Sept. 1 was 10 to 15 percent above 2014, another hot summer, and 30 to 35 percent higher than 1981 to 2010 averages, he said.

The arrival of cooler nights, if the pattern holds, can put a good finish on what appears to be another good grape crop.

“There are two things that help plants to start ripening, especially wine grapes,” Jones said. “Shorter days, and cool nights. That is an environmental cue to tell the plant, ‘We have to ripen this fall.’ ”

The same thing happens with tomatoes, which take on a deep red color as summer ebbs, he said.

“Those cooler nights tell them to do this soon or you’re not going to ripen,” Jones said.

Jones said vineyard managers face day to day harvest decisions in such conditions. “How long do they leave fruit out there to get the different flavors they want?” he said.

Jones agreed Oregon growers are optimistic at harvest time no matter the conditions.

“It’s kind of like in Bordeau, in France,” he said with a laugh. “It’s always the vintage of the century.”

Attendance at Farwest Show climbs 10 percent

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

The 10 percent boost in attendance at the Oregon nursery industry’s Farwest Show this year bodes well for ornamental plant sales, according to the event’s organizer.

More than 6,000 people attended the 2015 trade show, which seeks to connect wholesale producers of nursery stock with retailers and other buyers.

“I think it’s a further indicator the nursery industry is recovering,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, which organizes the annual event.

Last year, Oregon nursery sales grew 11 percent to $830 million, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Oregon’s favorable growing conditions have allowed the nursery industry to capitalize on increased demand, said Stone.

Nursery producers in the state also didn’t cut back on production as much as growers elsewhere, putting them in a better position as the economy improved, he said.

“Oregon product is moving. There are shortages in the marketplace,” said Stone.

Rising revenues are the result of larger consumption rather than increased prices, with demand growing due to the housing market’s recovery and greater yard investments by homeowners, he said.

The market is even on the upswing for the beleaguered shade tree sector, which was particularly hard hit when residential construction plummeted, he said.

The industry has generally become more flexible, with retailers repeatedly making orders throughout the year as their inventory decreases, rather than buying large amounts of stock at once, Stone said.

Nursery producers also re-oriented to focus on newly-popular products, such as food-producing trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, he said.

“It’s about trying to anticipate that demand,” he said.

The Farwest Show remains an important financial component of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, which derives roughly one-third of its revenues from the annual event.

That’s down from about half of its revenues before the recession, as the association has diversified to include other sources of income, Stone said.

OAN tries not to be overly reliant on membership dues, keeping them at about one-third to one-fourth of its budget, he said. Instead, the group has begun offering more fee services, such as insurance and fuel programs.

While the Farwest Show is a major revenue stream, it’s also expensive to produce.

Not only does the event require a lot of staff time, but renting the Oregon Convention Center isn’t cheap, said Stone.

The location is great for OAN due to its ability to accommodate large events, he said. “Because of our size, we’re fairly limited on where we can go.”

Oregon’s first In-N-Out opens on Wednesday

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — The wait for In-N-Out Burger is over for Oregon residents.

The Mail Tribune reports that the In-N-Out chain has formally announced a Wednesday opening for its first restaurant in the state in Medford.

The store was to start serving at 9 a.m. after a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

City officials are preparing for increased traffic and waits of up to four-hours in the drive-thru and walk-in parts of the restaurant.

Those looking to sneak in early should be warned that the parking lot will be secured until the store opens.

After the opening, officials say the burger joint will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

OSU’s Small Farm School attracts a new scale of Oregon producer

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Portland — If there were any doubt about the diverse faces of Oregon agriculture, consider this: More than 175 prospective farmers have signed up for a one-day Small Farm School offered by Oregon State University Extension.

The program, coordinated by OSU’s Center for Small Farms, takes place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 12 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, southeast of Portland. A couple events are at the Clackamas County Event Center in Canby.

Workshops include horse handling and emergency vet care, tractor safety, soil testing, beekeeping and small engine basics, blueberry production, dryland vegetable farming, pasture management and more.

On-line registration is open through Thursday, Sept. 10.

Oregon’s small farms, especially in or next to urban areas, have found a market niche with high-end restaurants, roadside stands, farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription buyers. The state has more than 9,000 farms that are one to nine acres.

Quinoa undergoing testing in Northeast Oregon

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

JOSEPH, Ore. — A group of farmers and Washington State University researchers are studying whether quinoa, a grain traditionally grown in the South American Andes, can be a viable cash crop in the Northwest.

In 2014 Ted Golder of Seal Rock, Ore., came to Eastern Oregon on an exploratory mission. He thought the climate would be similar enough to the Andes to grow quinoa. In a local coffee shop he met Jerome Geortzen of Joseph, who was also on the same mission. Last summer the two started quinoa test plots in fields around the Wallowa Valley.

Golder said he first became interested in quinoa when it became popular in health food markets a few years ago.

“A nutritionist friend of mine in Eugene told me the climate and altitude in Wallowa County is not that different than some areas in South America. Then I learned through Washington State University we really do have one of the most optimum areas to potentially to grow it.”

Golder and Goertzen discovered Washington State had a team of researchers led by professor Kevin Murphy who are working with farmers all over the Northwest to grow different varieties of quinoa.

Last year Golder and Goertzen grew test crops at local farms. Using seed from last year’s crop and a variety from Colorado, this year they have 300 quinoa plants growing in seven rows near a conventional wheat field that Golder said are doing quite well.

In contrast, they have 16 rows of quinoa growing at Patrick Thiel’s Prairie Creek Farm outside of Joseph overseen by Washington State University researchers.

“Quinoa is a good fit with what I do,” Thiel said. “We’ve always grown specialized crops.”

Thiel’s farm is organic, which is more along the lines of what the researchers at Washington State have in mind, Golder said.

“It’s a good fit with WSU — they wanted their test plots grown organically,” Golder said.

Thiel said he was impressed with Washington State’s researchers when they came to lay out the test plots and outlined a uniform regiment for watering and weeding.

“They saw a value in doing a trial here. They get great research information while we keep it organic and grow it in a unique enough area,” Thiel said.

Farming is always a gamble. Golder said last year the weather was more consistent as was the crop.

This year a wet May stunted the growth of the newly planted starts. Thiel said quinoa is physiologically designed to come out of its seed in five days and puts down a taproot.

“If it’s overwatered they will stress and not survive,” Thiel said.

Rows were replanted, pushing out the harvest well into September, Golder said.

Not needing much water may be a major plus considering the extended drought in the West.

“Water is getting tighter every day,” Golder said.

Thiel said in South America quinoa is planted in a field and left until harvest.

“One of the things they liked about that crop is you leave it in an environment where it is doing well by itself,” Thiel said.

Golder said working with Washington State is important to help determine what traits farmers will want in their quinoa crop.

“Do they want it to be easily spotted from other similar plants like lamb’s quarter? Faster maturity?” he said. “The techniques we are using to grow quinoa will be repeated next year with a strategy. We are only half way there.”

Thiel said he couldn’t emphasize enough how important it is that Washington State is involved.

“They’ve worked with potatoes for more than 100 years. I see the same with the quinoa. They know how to do it,” Thiel said.

Deer devour hemp crops at S. Oregon farm

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

MURPHY, Ore. (AP) — Deer got the munchies at an industrial hemp crop in southern Oregon.

The deer got by barbed-wire fencing a couple weeks ago and went through the hemp plants like high-powered mowers, the Grants Pass Daily Courier reported.

“Generally, I don’t think they like cannabis. They liked ours, though,” said Cliff Thomason, a real estate agent who is the steward of the first industrial hemp crop in Oregon, which was planted near Murphy by Thomason and his partners with Orhempco.

The company planted roughly 1,000 plants in the section the deer got into, and Thomason said there are only about 40 left.

Industrial hemp has a low level of THC, the psychoactive property of marijuana. Kit Doyle, another partner in Orhemco, said it’s high in protein and that’s likely why the deer went on a binge.

Orhempco has several crops of industrial hemp — each planted at a different time and is in a different stage of maturity. Doyle said the group expects to have other plants go to harvest that will produce hemp seed for sale.

The land is owned by Josephine County Commissioner Cherryl Walker and her husband, Martin Hill. Fellow county Commissioner Simon Hare also is a partner.

Only some of the crop is protected by the tall fencing needed to thwart deer. Doyle said a reason some crops were left vulnerable was because of the uncertainty surrounding the program. A bill in the Oregon Legislature would have put Orhempco out of business had it passed the Senate.

“We wanted to hurry and get in the ground and we didn’t want to spend a lot of money,” Doyle said. “Next year, if we decide to grow in the same place, we will have the necessary infrastructure.”

Prescribed burns starting soon in Douglas County

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — It’s been a smoky summer in Douglas County because of wildfires, and prescribed burns are about to add to the haze.

Farmers and ranchers use controlled burns to prepare their fields and pastures for the spring. The fires remove noxious weeds, brush, insects, and plant disease. They also reduce the buildup of flammable vegetation that can cause massive summer wildfires.

But the burns mean people will see more smoke. To lessen the impact, Kyle Reed of the Douglas Forest Protective Association says the burns are only allowed when conditions are favorable to keep smoke away from heavily populated areas.

To get a burn permit, landowners must prove they have the equipment and personnel to maintain control of the blaze. Fire trails are built around the burn site before the fire starts.


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