The Oregon Department of Agriculture regulates the burning of certain grass seed fields in limited areas of the Willamette Valley each summer. For more information, see DEQ's Field Burning fact sheet
In June 2009 the Oregon Legislature adopted Senate Bill 528. This bill prohibits open field burning in the Willamette Valley starting in 2010, with two exceptions. The first reduces the amount of specialized burning known as "identified species and steep terrain burning" from 25,000 to 15,000 acres. Most of this burning is located in Marion County, with the remainder in small areas of Linn and Clackamas counties.
The second exception would allow "emergency burning" of up to 2,000 acres per year, subject to DEQ approval, in order to address fields where there is a serious disease outbreak or insect infestation. Other restrictions on stack burning and propane flaming allow this burning to continue at very low levels until 2013, and then none thereafter. Other provisions in SB 528 doubled the registration and burn fees, and prohibit burning in 'critical non-burn areas" where there are power transmission lines or other similar concerns.
In 2010, DEQ, along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, developed rules to implement SB 528. Public hearings were held and comments provided to both agencies in April and May. ODA adopted their rules in July, while DEQ rules were adopted in August, 2010. Both rules are identical, except DEQ rules contain additional provisions for emergency burning, as described above. Under state law, ODA operates the smoke management program for Willamette Valley field burning, while DEQ's role is limited to oversight of this program. This does not change under the new legislation, except for the emergency burning rules, which fall under DEQ authority.
DEQ's 2010 rulemaking documents associated with implementing SB 528 are provided below. They include DEQ Director's recommendation to the EQC on rule adoption, a detailed summary of public comments and agency response to comments, and the changes made to the field burning rules in response to comment.
Final rulemaking documents
History of field burning