EUGENE, Ore. - The skies over the Willamette Valley are full of smoke and haze. When you look out across the valley, it can be hard to see the hills.
We've heard the source of all that junk is anything from the fires burning in Russia, British Columbia and central Oregon to field burning in the Willamette Valley.
John Byers is the director of Oregon's Smoke Management Program at the Department of Agriculture. He tells KVAL News, field burning is not responsible for the problem. Byers says, "We no longer burn in what we call the south Willamette Valley. We do burn in the north Willamette valley." He says field burning has been phased down by the state legislature. "Since 1991, farmers have burned up to 65,000 acres annually. In 2009 the Oregon legislative assembly reduced field burning." Today, burning in the north Willamette Valley is limited to a maximum of 15,000 acres.
We asked Sally Markos at the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency in Springfield if the smoke was coming from Russia. She said, "No, the smoke is not coming from Russia." Her agency looked at satellite pictures to be sure. Markos said, "The smoke was actually heading towards Moscow and not towards Eugene."
According to Markos, the smoke is coming from fires in British Columbia which are impacting large parts of the Pacific Northwest and from the wildfire burning in Central Oregon. "Last night around midnight we had an East wind that brought smoke from the Rooster rock fire down into the Springfield area."
The air quality in the Willamette Valley is good. The smoke is up around 2,000 or 3,000 feet or higher, so the at ground level, the air quality is in the good category.
LRAPA updates the air quality numbers for Lane County every hour. You can check it out by logging onto kval.com/newslinks.