Restrictions placed on open burning

The Wyoming Dept. of Environmental Quality has severely restricted the Town of Lovell’s spring open burning program, at least until school is out.

Due to a concern expressed by Lovell Elementary School Principal Cheri Hoffman about smoke being drawn into the school via the school air system on burning days, the DEQ Air Quality Division had recently asked the town to look at alternatives. Hoffman had asked that there be no burning during school hours, potentially limiting burning to weekends and holidays until school is out for the summer.

The council in February agreed to push the open burning period back to a starting date later in March than usual and made a request for a DEQ setback waiver lasting from March 22 through June 23. The request, written Feb. 21, explained concerns the town had about concentrating burning on weekends, fearing that the practice could cause problems for those with breathing difficulties. The letter stressed that the town has a policy whereby a citizen or a school official would be able to contact the Lovell dispatch center and have a source of smoke investigated and potentially shut down if smoke on a particular day is bothersome.

But Air Quality Division Administrator Steven Dietrich responded in a letter to the town dated Feb. 26 that the setback waiver will only be granted during the Easter weekend – March 29 through April 2 – and from June 1 through June 23 “in order to protect the students of Lovell Elementary.”

“The previous burn period caused health impacts to the school, and the current proposal does not include a significant reduction in burning on school days,” Dietrich wrote. “Continued progress toward alternatives to open burning in town will need to be documented before an additional waiver can be considered. Additionally, the Air Quality Division may revoke this setback approval should we receive adverse comments regarding open burning from any residents of Lovell.”

During the March 12 town council meeting, the council voted to match the DEQ’s dates of March 29-April 1 and June 1-23 for the spring open burning period, and the town may submit a request for an amendment adding weekends during the spring, as well, with each half of town allowed to burn on a particular day.

Meanwhile, the town is moving ahead with a spring community cleanup period of April 19-29 during which a town lot at Third and Montana will be used to collect material and items the town will transport to the landfill or salvage.

Noting the presence of Boy Scouts from Troop 9 at the meeting, Mayor Bruce Morrison urged the Scouts to get involved with the cleanup by helping their neighbors with cleanup tasks.

“There are a lot of widow ladies in our town and people who can’t do things,” Morrison said. “Service groups are encouraged to participate in the cleanup.”

By David Peck