The Jefferson County Smoke Management Committee met Feb. 13, and despite the grower complaints registered at the recent Farm Fair, decided to uphold the decision to eliminate out-of-season field burning.

The program will ban field burning from June 1 (when the fire chief shuts down open burning in the fire district to the general public) until the farmers’ Smoke Management Program starts up again (usually fair week in late July).

“They have made this decision to support the fire chief. The job of shutting down open burning (for summer safety) is more difficult with the mixed-message of some being allowed to burn (farmers); and some not (the public),” said smoke management coordinator Kristi Fisher. If some growers feel that they will not have enough time to get fields prepared for seed, the committee might consider starting the smoke program one week earlier (to mid-July) to help growers get their work done.

But Fisher noted, “Because the county ordinances only allow for a nine-week season, this moving the season up a week would end the season earlier (mid-September), so the decision must be carefully thought out, and is very dependent on seasonal weather conditions.”

The committee will decide the actual start of the smoke program in late June, when members have had a chance to assess weather expectations and field readiness, she said.

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