A history of field burning: 1948 to 2009

A history of field burning: 1948 to 2009

SALEM, Ore. -- As the Oregon Legislature heads toward adjournment, lawmakers have completed action on a bill to phase out most field burning by Willamette Valley grass seed farmers. Monday's 31-29 vote by the House sends the measure to Gov. Ted Kulongoski. | STORY

A history of field burning and field burning regulation, courtesy Oregon Department of Agriculture

1948
Field burning recommended by OSU agronomists, becomes common practice. 
 
1951
Air Pollution Control Board established, issues daily weather forecasts for field burning. 
 
1959
State Sanitary Authority (State Board of Health) replaces APCB, issues daily burning advisories. 
 
1966
Night burning banned; poor smoke dispersal conditions make night burning impractical. 
 
1967
HB 1028 requires fire district permits, State Sanitary Authority issues marginal/prohibited burning advisories. 
 
1968
315,000 acres burned; 144 complaints received. 
 
1969
225,000 acres burned; 5,142 complaints received. SB 396 abolishes State Sanitary Authority, replaces with Dept. of Environmental Quality and smoke management program. 
 
Aug.12, 1969
Heavy smoke impact in Eugene/Springfield ("Black Tuesday"). Governor McCall issues temporary emergency ban. 
 
1970
252,000 acres burned; 1,733 complaints received. 
 
1971
260,000 acres burned; 286,000 registered; 785 complaints received. SB 38 will ban field burning by 1975. Field registration required, $.50 per acre fee. Research into mobile sanitizers began. 
 
1972
270,000 acres burned; 277,000 registered; 369 complaints received. 
 
1973
263,000 acres burned; 279,000 registered; 588 complaints received. HB 2204 & 2205 raise acreage fees to $1 per acre. 
 
1974
282,741 acres burned; 298,968 registered; 1,196 complaints received. 
 
Sept. 3, 1974
Heavy smoke impact in Eugene/Springfield 
 
1975
186,260 acres burned; 280,183 registered; 761 complaints received.

SB 311 lifts FB ban, replaces with acreage "phasedown":
1975 235,000 ac;
1976 195,000 ac;
1977 95,000 ac;
1978 and thereafter 50,000 ac.DEQ granted permit and direct enforcement authority; first violations cited.
Raised acreage fees: $3/ac for 1975, $4/ac for 1976. 
 
1976
165,712 acres burned; 295,493 registered; 318 complaints received. 
 
1977
171,500 acres burned; 280,000 registered; 746 complaints. HB 2196 revises phasedown:
1977 195,000 ac;  1978 180,000 ac; EQC to set future limits. DEQ assumes research responsibilities, sets up R&D Program and establishes 5 member R&D Advisory Committee.Fees reduced to: $1/ac registration; $2.50/ac burn fee. 
 
1978

153,890 acres burned; 284,328 registered; 552 complaints received. 
 
1979
153,043 acres burned; 287,615 registered; 429 complaints received. SB 472 limits acreage to 250,000 acres.

"Performance Standard" set for Eugene/Springfield. EPA approves State Implementation Plan, exempts field burning rules.

Administrative rules and operations refined; includes mapping fields, zone system, additional enforcement regulations, controls on burning density, lighting techniques.1980 212,126 acres burned; 297,301 registered; 1,183 complaints received. Expansion of FB
Air Monitoring Network, zone system expanded, enforcement efforts increased. 
 
1981
233,975 acres burned; 314,275 registered; 844 complaints received. 
 
1982
220,196 acres burned; 328,625 registered; 655 complaints received. 
 
1983
208,236 acres burned; 315,654 registered; 368 complaints received. 
 
1984
237,551 acres burned; 316,524 registered; 1,032 complaints received. 
 
1985
214,787 acres burned; 305,950 registered; 503 complaints received.

Field burning ban fails (SB 792). House Committee directs DEQ to conduct evaluation of R&D Program and conduct preliminary health effects study.

Lowest number of smoke impact hours in Valley (36) since monitoring network expanded in 1980. 
 
1986
199,050 acres burned; 321,299 registered, 851 complaints received. 
 
1987
201,688 acres burned; 317,930 registered; 1,411 complaints received. Oregon Visibility Protection Plan adopted, restricts burning on weekends. 
 
Sept. 14, 1987
Heavy smoke impact in Salem and Portland. 
 
1988
168,530 acres burned; 342,559 registered; 3,783 complaints received. 
 
Aug. 3, 1988
Interstate 5 accident; 7 killed, 38 injured.

1989
165,283 acres burned; 314,743 registered; 2,018 complaints received.

Legislature fails to pass field burning bill (SB 348, HB 2434)

Lowest number of smoke impact hours in valley (32) since monitoring network expanded in 1980.

1990
159,340 acres burned; 284,887 registered; 2,959 complaints received.

Smoke management program located in Department of Agriculture (ODA). DEQ retained enforcement and monitoring responsibility.

1991
101,052 acres burned; 240,953 registered; 2,021 complaints received.

HB 3343 established open field burning phasedown and propane flaming limitation.
1991: 180,000 ac;
1992-93: 140,000 ac.;
1994-95: 120,000 ac.;
1996-97: 100,000 ac.;
1998 and thereafter: 40,000 ac.

ODA assumes research responsibilities and establishes 7 member Task Force. 
 
1992
87,606 acres burned; 121,259 registered; 1,118 complaints received. 
 
1993
74,464 acres burned; 105,171 registered; 624 complaints received.

HB 2211 adopts simplified registration system and other operation refinements. 
 
1994
81,790 acres open field burned; 101,266 registered; 1332 complaints received. 
 
1995
83,593 acres open field burned; 103,874 registered; 580 complaints received.
HB 3044 directs ODA to operate all of the smoke management program 
 
1996
76,417 acres open field burned; 103,097 registered; 640 open field burning complaints received.
Last year DEQ performs enforcement role for smoke management program 
 
1997
56,878 acres open field burned; 89,187 registered; 373 open field burning complaints received.
ODA assumes enforcement role for smoke management program 
 
1998
46,299 acres open field burned; 80,630 registered; 282 open field burning complaints received 
 
1999
49,999 acres open field burned; 75,382 acres registered; 249 open field burning complaints received
 
2000
50,801 acres open field burned; 76,561 acres registered; 477 open field burning complaints received

2001
52,934 acres open field burned; 79,756 acres registered; 608 open field burning complaints received
Permit agents under contract with ODA.

HB 2154 redefines field burning alternatives research program. 

2002
51,374 acres open field burned; 79,679 acres registered; 705 open field burning complaints received 
 
2003
50,427 acres open field burned; 78,491 acres registered; 206 complaints received

2009
The Oregon Senate and House narrowly approve a phaseout of field burning except for a few specific areas.