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Fifty Years of KEZI 9 News: The Fight Over Field Burning

December 13, 2010

By Rick Douglas

EUGENE, Ore. — In covering 50 years of news in Western Oregon, we’ve dealt with everything from downtown redevelopment to the continuing troubles of the timber industry.

And there’s one other issue that always demanded our attention: field burning.

The grass-seed industry has a long and proud tradition in the Willamette Valley.

But, as often as growers have been planting their crop, they’ve also been burning field stubble.

And, until recently, smoke-filled skies were a late summer problem.

Field burning was first restricted back in 1991, when the state legislature capped the allowable acreage burned to 40,000, down from 180,000.

Then, last year, the legislature passed a bill that effectively bans field burning altogether, beginning with the 2010 growing season.

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