Smoke meeting draws low turnout

archive_import

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

Better communication, improved weather forecasting and the new Healthy Forest Initiative should reduce controlled-burn smoke in the foothills next fall.

That was the good news from a Sonora meeting held yesterday by Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa.

But few heard it: Only 60 came to the Mother Lode Fairgrounds' cavernous Sierra Building for the panel discussion. It was less than a quarter of the crowd expected by the congressman's staff.

The "listening session," which also included Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, was prompted by the thick pall of smoke put in the air in August and September by controlled burns and lightning fires in Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.

During the burns, phones rang incessantly in county offices and letters hit The Union Democrat's editorial page as residents complained of poor air.

While yesterday's panel received a few pointed questions and complaints, many in yesterday's audience were officials representing the Forest Service, Park Service, Tuolumne County or the City of Sonora.

Most chairs sat empty as a panel of representatives from these agencies, Tuolumne County Air Pollution Control, state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Tuolumne County Health Department debated the benefits of controlled burning with the risks of smoke inhalation.

Despite the turnout, most said they felt the session was worthwhile.

"It's a start," said Tuolumne County Supervisor Mark Thornton. "The public needed to know state and federal agencies are aware of the smoke impacts."

All panel members said they are working to reduce the smoke problem next year, even though controlled burning will still go on to reduce debris buildup on the forest floor.

But more communication between agencies and the public, and improved weather forecasting technology, should help people understand why burns are necessary and that fire officials know when to put them out.

11515032
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Saturday February 25, 2017

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
McClintock supporters, protesters call for peaceful event

02/20/2017

With people speculating about what could become the largest protest Sonora has ... more

McClintock town hall draws large, divided crowd

02/22/2017

There was patriotic singing, chanting and sign waving inside the packed 569-seat ... more

Diverse views outside McClintock Town Hall

02/22/2017

They came with signs and flags and at least one mask, expressing ... more

County appoints working group on marijuana regulations

02/22/2017

What do two county supervisors, a former California Highway Patrol commander, a ... more

Impounded water rushes into the Tuolumne River

02/20/2017

Worried about rising waters in the Golden State’s sixth-largest water storage facility, ... more