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Burn ban goes into effect in Kitsap

"While the year 2001 will commence just as soon as the clock strikes midnight New Year’s Eve, an outdoor burn ban is also slated to begin in Kitsap County, as mandated by a decade-old state law called the Clean Air Act.That means Kitsap County residents living within designated parts of the county can no longer burn outside yard waste such as leaves, branches and clippings because doing so contributes to air pollution.Generally speaking, the impending burn ban is expected to affect Kitsap County residents living within Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Port Orchard, as well as the county’s Urban Growth Areas (UGAs), including Silverdale and Kingston. Some bad news is, for many weeks an electronic map detailing the burn-ban boundaries has been criticized for its lack of clarity. The good news is, the Kitsap County Public Works office is working with the contractor that operates the site to fix the map.The on-line map, administered by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, confused Silverdale Realty owner Ron Ross enough for him to tell the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners in early December about it.Because of his and many others’ concerns, Kitsap County staff members are reworking that particular map so folks can actually see whether their home and yard fall within the burn-ban boundaries.Once completed, the reworked map should replace the illustration currently available on the Internet, and should be sent to the county’s fire districts, city halls and library branches for citizen review.Kitsap County Recycling Coordinator Dave Peters, who has worked closely with the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office to implement the burn ban and offer residents alternatives to burning says that, if all else fails, residents can call the burn ban hotline to figure out whether they are required to comply with the ban based on the location of their residence.(See the Gray Box for phone number.)Kitsap County Fire Marshal Derrick Crawley, who administers the hotline, couldn’t be reached for comment because he was away on a personal emergency over the holidays. Peters conceded that confusion has reigned over the designated burn-ban boundaries. State law dictates that counties can define the impending burn ban boundaries by copying the UGAs. Once copied, those boundaries can be shifted wherever it made sense to do so. Put another way, UGAs as established, sometimes split streets or yards in half. For enforcment reasons, it wouldn’t make sense to allow one neighbor to burn yard waste while the other couldn’t, or to allow a resident to burn yard waste in one section of his or her yard and not the other. That’s why the burn ban boundaries sometimes coincide with the UGAs in Kitsap and, in other cases, slightly deviate.For many months now, Peters has worked to offer citizens with alternatives to burning their yard waste and his office has crafted several.Kitsap County plans to begin voluntary curb side pick-up services in the unincorporated areas of the county beginning March 5, once yard waste starts to become a problem again. Already, Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Bremerton provide curb-side pickup services.Several yard-waste drop stations will also be available as another alternative to residents, Peters said. There will be fees in place for the drop-off sites by Jan. 15, he said.The Kitsap County Public Works department offers classes every year on how to compost yard waste, which is another disposal option. Branches could also be chipped and, grass clippings for instance, can just be left on the lawn since they are also a good source of nitrogen.County officials also want to make clear that the burn ban is far from draconian and has already been implemented in parts of King County, for example.“The impending burn ban also doesn’t outlaw burning firewood inside, so long as a regional burn ban isn’t in place at the time,” said Peters. “Campfires, as long as they fit within certain size constraints can also continue.”Already outlawed in the state of Washington is the use of burn barrels and burning garbage.“Our main goal is to educate folks about the burn ban,” said Ed Iskra, a Kitsap County Fire Marshal. “So if someone calls in a burn complaint, one of the county’s fire departments will respond and write up a report. That information would go to our office, and we’d follow up by letting that resident know what can be done to dispose of yard waste instead of burning it.”But if chronic violations occur, the Fire Marshal’s Office could report the offender to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and, as the administer and enforcer of the Clean Air Act, the agency could level some hefty fines. "

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