Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, October 15 2012 at 1:48 PM, Updated: Mon, October 15 2012 at 1:58 PM
Today marks the seasonal start of air quality and wood burning advisories in Klamath Falls.
On January 25th, 1988, the air in Klamath Falls was so thick with wood stove smoke that it hit a national record for poor air quality...a record that stands to this day.
The county adopted 'red, yellow, and green' wood burning advisories in 1991 to help improve air quality.
"This is a critical year." Notes Klamath County Air Quality Inspector Jim Carey. "Because last year, we didn't meet the standards. And we have to meet the standards three years in a row."
If Klamath Falls has one more year out of compliance before December of 2014, additional restrictions could go into place.
Those restrictions could include more 'red' wood burning advisory days, placing more restrictions on the use of certified wood stoves, or allowing wood burning only on 'green' wood burning days.
Air quality is monitored at a station near Peterson Elementary School, and advisories are issued daily.
There's several ways to check out the daily wood burning advisories. You can check out the reader board at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, or you can call (541) 882-BURN. You can go to Klamath County's main web page, or: www.klamathair.org
Or, you can simply drive by a local school...
Flagpoles are being installed at several schools to display red, yellow, or green air quality flags.
"It will be Monday through Friday." Adds Jim Carey. "You'll be able to drive by the school, and see if it's a red, yellow, or green day."
The air quality advisories will be issued through March 16th.
It's estimated that wood stoves are responsible for nearly 75% of the air particulate pollution in Klamath Falls.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.