Archive for Monday, February 16, 2009

Residents south of Lawrence upset about smoke from burning trees

Crew Foreman Thor Shriver of Ames Construction Inc. of Aurora, Colo., oversees the burning of trees that were cleared Monday to make way for the new U.S. Highway  59 construction at Pleasant Grove between Lawrence and Ottawa.

Crew Foreman Thor Shriver of Ames Construction Inc. of Aurora, Colo., oversees the burning of trees that were cleared Monday to make way for the new U.S. Highway 59 construction at Pleasant Grove between Lawrence and Ottawa.

February 16, 2009

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Neighbors of highway project burned by smoke-filled skies

Some Pleasant Grove area residents are tired of having smoke blown in their faces. Enlarge video

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Contractors are clearing trees and brush to make room for construction of the new U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence.

Some Pleasant Grove area residents are tired of having smoke blown in their faces.

“It’s really a health hazard and I have asthma,” Marcia Price said.

The smoke is coming from trees and brush that have been cleared to make room for construction of the new U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence. Contractors are placing the debris in piles and burning it.

“This just really irritates me,” said Catherine Wolf. “People do things like this and they think we just have to put up with it. Well, we don’t have to put up with it.”

Wolf had her own suggestion for getting rid of the debris.

“Why don’t they take it to a public spot and burn it?” she asked.

Price said she is ready to complain to county commissioners.

The burning will continue for another month, said Kim Qualls, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation, which oversees the highway project. The nearest homes are at least a half-mile away, she said.

Green wood, shrubs or “trash trees” are what are being burned, Qualls said.

“They are not burning all the trees,” she said. “People are coming in and chopping up the wood they can use for firewood and hauling it away.”

Anyone wanting firewood has to sign a form and then chop the wood, Qualls said. A small fee might be charged, she said.

“They’re burning during the daytime hours. We’re going to try smaller piles, but it is still green wood and it will smoke more than dry wood,” Qualls said.

The proper permits and paperwork have been filed to allow the burning, she said.

“We can’t control the wind direction and the weather,” Qualls said. “We’re doing what we can.”

Comments

quimby 6 years, 2 months ago

what irritates me most about the burning trees (since i'm not in the pathway of the smoke) is that they're burning so many to begin with. they're slashing huge amounts of trees for this project (enough to be burning them for another month)! people should be outraged at this. why do we let the turnpike do whatever they want, at the expense of our health and the environment? way to go. i understand that they can't do this project without removing some trees, but they are removing A LOT!! it's time for KDOT, the turnpike, and others planning our transportation systems to start seriously considering the impacts (human, natural environment, and otherwise) of these projects.

hujiko 6 years, 2 months ago

quimby, with a project that disrupts a large amount of nature such as road construction, the contractor is obligated to plant trees in mitigation to the loss of habitat and natural space. This has been the norm in construction for decades as to equal out the affects of altering the landscape.

Danimal 6 years, 2 months ago

“Why don’t they take it to a public spot and burn it?”

A public spot like the still undeveloped right of way for new highway construction? Where else would this "public spot" be? South Park perhaps? Are these people complaining the same ones who live in all those gaudy Mc-Mansions by US59 south of town? If so, it would figure that they are bemoaning what they perceive to be even the slightest inconvenience.

Doesn't everyone that's so outraged by this burning realize that most of these trees aren't native to Kansas anyway? A lot of them are invasive species of pine. Further, what else are they supposed to do with them? Should we truck these trees all the way out to western Kansas where no one will see or smell them being burned? With all the things in our air a little wood smoke should be the least of peoples worries.

tmj_2009 6 years, 2 months ago

Burn the trees in a public area!? Are you kidding me, this has to be some of the most rediculous stuff I have heard in ages. Think about the cost in fuel it would take to transport the trees and brush to a different place, is that the right idea in a cash strapped economy? I don't think so.

Just bear a little smoke for a month, if you can't take it wear a particulate mask, i know it sounds harsh but seriously people grow up! If you lived near a forest with a forest fire would you be crying to the firefighters protecting your house and possesions to make the smoke blow the other way? Smoke is a part of life, deal with it because its not like you have to live with it for the rest of your life.

Quigly 6 years, 2 months ago

booo hoooo. Too bad they burned my wood to make the timy violin for you babies

Danimal 6 years, 2 months ago

Because then instead of having a big pile of trees that you can eliminate by reducing to ash you have a big pile of trees that you've turned into a big pile of chippings. I'm sure if they knew they could make better use of them somehow they would. They already give whatever people want away, so if you're so concerned go get these trees and mulch them yourself.

Robert Rauktis 6 years, 2 months ago

“Why don’t they take it to a public spot and burn it?” she asked.

They are burning it on someone's farm?

KLATTU 6 years, 2 months ago

When they are breathing car and truck exhaust 24/7 they are going to pine for the days of wood smoke.

bd 6 years, 2 months ago

Quimby, It is the state, not the Turnpike! BTW , there are smokeless blast burners that I have seen used on other projects, but they are expensive to run.

beawolf 6 years, 2 months ago

Actually, this could be very harmful to an asthmatic or someone with a respiratory illness. I wonder why the wood is not stacked until dried when it will burn cleaner and faster. Another option is to haul it to a lumber yard.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

The idea of chipping them is a good one.

And, before I get the predictable responses, it seems to me that acting in more environmentally/neighbor friendly ways should be required with large projects like this one.

If people are already picking up a fair amount of wood for their own use, there shouldn't be that much left for chipping, and folks could pick that up as well for landscaping use.

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 2 months ago

If they don't burn now, then they will die, dry, and burn someday in a less controlled environment.

To see the effects of what happens when the majority caves in to the few who are against this type of burning, please see the lastest death-toll in the Austrailian wildfires.

Methinks Ms. Wolf needs an adjustment of perspective.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

I like the phrase "invasive species of pine." Makes me think of the Huorns from The Two Towers.

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 2 months ago

Of course there are better uses for $250 million. It would pay for a lot of health care and food as well for those who need it. But roads are a fact of life. People aren't going to stop driving and wasting fuel. Even though we are becoming a more green minded populace, we are still a society of convenience and, in this case, safety, for our ever growing numbers. That is a nasty stretch of highway and heavily traveled.

jnixon 6 years, 2 months ago

My folks live up that road and have since the early 80's, as well as a bunch of other, mostly retired, folks. They don't really need the additional respiratory stress. Besides...thought we were under a burn ban...Cedar burns quickly as does the underbrush in these wooded areas. Have you any idea the obstacles of fighting a wild fire in this terrain?! They have to haul water in - NO Hydrants... and the people who are setting these fires...not from here! Colorado...say no more...

alm77 6 years, 2 months ago

Question: Why don't timber companies come and cut it to sell?

I don't know anything about trees, could someone explain it to me? Thanks!

tmj_2009 6 years, 2 months ago

I fight fires for the Forest Service in the summer asa part of an Initial Hellitack Crew out of the Black Hills in South Dakota and granted there are obstacles of fighting a fire in that terrain but it is no different from what people that burn shlash piles face anywhere else. Just because they are from Colorado makes them inept at doing a job!? If they were doing something such as doing a backburn in order to get the trees out of the way I would be concerned but because they are just burning slash piles shouldn't worry any of you, and remember there are several volunteer and professional fire departments a phone call away if anything gets out of control for the Contractor.

In times like these where people have to worry about when their next paycheck will come, or when a person can't afford to pay his or her bills because the economy has gone downhill should we really be worrying about a little smoke? Look at the big picture people, it could always be worse.

gr 6 years, 2 months ago

“People do things like this and they think we just have to put up with it. Well, we don’t have to put up with it.”

Um, you put up with the new highway going in.

“Why don’t they take it to a public spot and burn it?” Aren't you complaining that the current spot (1/2 mile) is TOO public?

"they're slashing huge amounts of trees for this project"

Highways do take up space. If you didn't slash them, what else would you do with them? They're not big enough to drive through.

"Are these people complaining the same ones who live in all those gaudy Mc-Mansions by US59 south of town?"

Yeah, like the ones who took up native ground to pollute with their herbicides and pesticides.

"A lot of them are invasive species of pine."

Sorry, can't go with you on that one. Never have seen natural seedlings of pine around here, let alone any to consider "invasive". Maybe you mean cedar or more correctly, juniper.

"Have you any idea the obstacles of fighting a wild fire in this terrain?!"

Think they might burn it on the cleared ground?

"$250 million folks. A lot of moolah. " log, why don't you look at the additional trillion the government is going into debt to waste?

quimby 6 years, 2 months ago

hujiko - i am fully aware that certain amount of trees are to be replanted when damaged/removed with projects such as this. however, any new trees are far less superior to the benefits of the existing trees. the majority of trees/wetlands planted/installed as mitigation projects are not monitored and, therefore, fail. always better to see if we can avoid these impacts first.

bd - you are correct r.e. this being a state project vs. turnpike - the turnpike has also been burning the heck out of lots of trees for improvements at the Lawrence I-70 exits. take all of these impacts cumulatively all over the place, and it's a bad deal for all of us.

MIke Mallory 6 years, 2 months ago

hey catherine, yes you do have to put up with it, I live just down the hill and it doesnt bother me at all.

Janet Lowther 6 years, 2 months ago

What they need are some large blowers, directed into the base of the fire. It won't get rid of all the smoke, but it will make the fire burn a lot hotter and be less smokey.

womanwarrior 6 years, 2 months ago

Well, not to sound like a bigot, but people in Colorado want us to build a polluting, ground water reducing power plant, so they can have cheap electricity without polluting and depleting their ground water. Why should they care about polluting our air with the smoke? I mean it's just Kansas, who cares about Kansas anyway?

Carol Bowen 6 years, 2 months ago

Why isn't anyone concerned about the health problems this burning creates? People with asthma and other respiratory problems are in pain. This is a long time to deal with brush that could be handled differently. Every time a field or wetland is burned we suffer.

highwayworker 6 years, 2 months ago

When we started this project a couple of years ago a few of men from a local nursery wanted all of the trees they could get for chipping to sell. So, we let them have every pile they wanted. They hauled in a huge chipper and proceeded to get to work then they hauled off all of the chips. Then they notified Ames that they would no longer be chipping the wood because not all of the species would take the dye. You know how the wood mulch consumer is, they want their mulch a uniform color.

We are laying out prime trees for people to come in and cut up for firewood and lumber. Take a look next time you drive by. you will see furniture makers taking select trees for their goods. You will see farmers and town folk taking loads of firewood to heat their houses and shops. You will see hobbyists taking wood to craft bowls and carvings.

The piles we are burning are small and they are filled with stumps and what is left behind from what people are taking. And, we are not burning close to houses, the roads or standing timber. We do use a blower mounted on a John Deere tractor to get the fires burning hot and we use it all day - every day we burn.

As far as Colorado people go, the majority of us here on this US75 project are from Kansas. People working on this project are from Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, North Dakota, Minnesota... the list goes on.

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