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They want the state to loosen fire restrictions so they can burn more, but state officials are reluctant to do it because it could mean more smoke in the area.

 

Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger would rather see smoke from prescribed burns than wildfires.

 

"It seems like the policy is no smoke, when we're trying to do 200 acres prescribed burns up slope from a community.  it's just gonna happen.  So how do we allow ourselves minimal predictable so we can avoid uncontrolled burns like the Two Bulls or Pole Creek fires."

 

Unger says they need to keep ahead of the wildfire threat.

 

"The Forest Service wants to double the pace and scale of the burns to get more defensible space.  Right now the burn bosses are concerned about the smoke and they are going to slow down the pace and scale because they haven't figures out how to manage this intrusion problem."

 

Nick Younger is a meterologist with the Oregon Department of Forestry.  He puts together the forecasts to allow these burns.

 

"The idea is we try to burn it when the mixing is up so the smoke lifts upward and it moves up and outward from Bend.  And that can be done pretty well during the nighttime hours, but it can be difficult during the day when there is smoldering overnight and it drains into Bend."

 

Last week, state environmental officials met in Bend to discuss how to strike a balance to allow the areas to conduct more of these controlled burns, while avoiding high smoke levels.

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