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Open burning season starts in Jackson County

The end of fire season marks the beginning of open burning season — but officials are urging residents to choose alternatives or, if they decide to burn, to follow all the regulations.

The fire season ended Tuesday after weekend rain and cool temperatures dampened fire hazard.

Jackson County now allows open burning of approved materials, but only on designated burn days and in accordance with regulations, county officials announced Tuesday.

The rules are meant to reduce the amount of smoke trapped in the Rogue Valley and to prevent the emission of toxic smoke from illegal materials, officials said.

“If the ventilation is good enough, it should allow for smoke to escape the valley with minimal impact to air quality,” said Jon Wright, Jackson County environmental public health air quality coordinator. “It is important to remember that this all depends on ventilation being good enough to allow the smoke to escape the valley. If people burn when the ventilation is poor, it can lead to air quality problems.”

Anyone who wants to do open or barrel burning must call the Burn Advisory Hotline at 541-776-7007 before setting debris ablaze. The hotline is updated every morning and let’s people know if burning is allowed based on local weather conditions.

Open and barrel burning is not permitted inside the Air Quality Maintenance Area between Nov. 1 and the end of February. Call 541-774-8207 to see if you are within the AQMA boundaries.

Further restrictions often apply within city limits, county officials said.

Call your local fire district or fire department to check on burn regulations and find out how to apply for a burn permit.

Yard debris burning is not allowed within the city limits of Medford, for example.

Using an outdoor fire pit in Medford requires a permit, which is available through Medford Fire-Rescue. A host of regulations apply, including no burning when the ventilation index is below 400, when wind speeds are more than 20 mph or without a spark arrestor screen.

Only dry wood and charcoal briquettes can be burned — no garbage, cooking scraps or anything else that could emit dense smoke or noxious odors.

For more information, visit www.medfordfirerescue.org or call 541-774-2300.

Open burning is only allowed in Ashland if the material is wildfire fuels or noxious weeds, if there is no alternative to burning and if the property is within the city’s Wildfire Hazard Zone.

If your property meets those conditions, call Ashland Fire and Rescue at 541-482-2770 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule a burn permit inspection.

Burning with a permit in Ashland is only allowed for two weeks after the close of fire season, and again in the spring from March 1 until the start of fire season.

For more information, visit www.ashland.or.us and view the fire department page.

Regardless of where people live in Jackson County, burning of garbage, plastic, wire insulation, automobile parts, asphalt, petroleum products and petroleum-treated materials, rubber, animal remains, cooking scraps or anything else that emits dense smoke or noxious odors is banned.

Alternatives to burning include composting leaves and yard materials.

Call the local Oregon State University Extension Service for information on leaf composting at 541-776-7371.

To donate your leaves to someone who wants leaves for composting, sign up for the Jackson County Leaf Exchange Program by calling 541-774-7835.

Biomass One, located at 2350 Avenue G in White City, takes wood waste. Call 541-826-9422 or see www.biomassone.com for information on home pick-up and drop-off center options.

Clean wood is accepted at Hilton Fuel, 8087 Blackwell Road, Central Point. Call 541-664-3374.

Rogue Disposal accepts yard debris at 8001 Table Rock Road in White City. Call 541-779-4161 for information on yard debris, leaf recycling and composting programs.

The Ashland Sanitary and Recycling Transfer Station at 3000 Valley View Road in Ashland handles yard debris. Call 541-482-1471 or see www.ashlandsanitary.com for information on yard debris chipping and leaf disposal services.

Biodegradable bags for the collection and disposal of leaves are available for purchase from Recology Ashland’s location at 170 Oak Street. The bags cost $14.50 for five, which includes curbside pick-up of bagged leaves by Recology.

The bags are available at a discount of five bags for $10 from Oct. 21 through Nov. 1 for Ashland residents. Residents must show identification. The limit is two sets of discounted bags per household.

Bags will be picked up on regular recycling days. Recology customers who don’t pay for green debris services need to call the company to schedule a pick-up.

Free leaf collection days are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 3 and Dec. 8 at the Ashland Recycle Center, 220 Water St. Residents need to empty their bags of leaves themselves and take their bags back home.

For more information on Recology programs, call 541-482-1471 or see www.recology.com/recology-ashland.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

File photo Paul O'Donnell of Shady Cove unloads yard debris and leaves at Rogue Disposal's transfer station in White City in this 2018 file photo.