Wood Burning Exemptions

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, February 5 2013 at 5:20 PM, Updated: Tue, February 5 2013 at 5:32 PM

While wood stove smoke is cited as the biggest cause of air quality problems in Klamath County, several hundred people have exemptions to burn on 'red' days...

Disabled veteran Jerry Johnson says he feels a little guilty when he fires up his wood stove during a 'red' wood burning advisory...

"I do, because I'm very, It's important to me to be in an environment that's healthy.  But at the same time, we really don't have much of a choice, because of our income."

Klamath County Air Quality Coordinator Jim Carey notes that Johnson is one of several hundred people who have been granted an exemption by the county...

"This year, we have approximately 300, a little over 300, and that's about average for every year."

"Based on our income, and also on my medical situation, we were able to get approved for a variance."  Adds Johnson.

In January, stagnant air conditions and single-digit temperatures resulted in unhealthy air conditions.  Those conditions prompted the county to ask even those with exemptions to not burn.

Johnson notes that's not an option for some...

"There's a lot of people in this community that rely on wood heat, they just don't have any other option but to burn firewood."

There's a strong possibility that Klamath Falls could fail to meet federal air quality standards this year...and that could result in even tighter wood burning restrictions later on.

"I don't know what we would do if we weren't able to have this variance."  Notes Johnson.

Johnson says the last time he tried to heat his home with electric baseboard heaters, his power bill was over 700 dollars for the month.  Johnson adds that the estimated cost of putting in central heat to his home is over 10 thousand dollars.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

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.

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