A local effort to reduce air pollution from brush pile burning by collecting and disposing of vegetation has been so successful that it’s already hit its limit.
Funded by a $1,500 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology, the vegetation drive aimed to eliminate 50 to 60 burn piles, which produce an estimated 500 to 600 hours of smoke pollution.
People were encouraged to bring grass, bark, weeds, leaves, brush, branches and small trees to the transfer station in Twisp. The grant allowed the organization to collect one dumpster worth — up to 30 cubic yards (or up to 10 tons) of vegetation.
The dumpster is full as of this week.
In addition to the Ecology grant, the vegetation drive was supported by the Methow Valley Citizens Council, WasteWise Methow and Methow Valley Long Term Recovery.
The clean air project started last year. During the winter, volunteers erected two sandwich boards that were updated daily with color-coded labels showing air quality and whether there was a burn ban. The project also offers a free app for iPhones that gives real-time readings of air quality and burn-ban status.
The clean air project is adding a third sign this winter. Signs will be located at TwispWorks and near the Mazama junction. They are making arrangements for a third sign in Carlton.