Oakridge Attainment Strategy
The Oakridge community in Lane County, Oregon, in collaboration with LRAPA, is steadily working to increase air quality for local residents.
Since the EPA changed the federal standards for particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in the air in 2006, Oakridge has struggled to meet the new 24-hour standards. In recent years, Oakridge has vastly improved its air quality, even bringing the 3-year averages under the federal attainment standards.
In October 2019, the EPA announced the award of $4.9 million Targeted Airshed Grant to LRAPA to improve the Oakridge air quality. These funds will be utilized over the next five years to help further reduce the Oakridge particulate pollution issues and bring the city into attainment for good.
BACKGROUNDOakridge, Oregon is located in the foothills at the southern end of the Willamette River valley. The city is in Lane County, approximately 45 miles east-southeast of Eugene, and 28 miles west of Willamette Pass. Westfir, a small, rural community located about 1 mile NW of Oakridge is also included in the Oakridge area attainment boundary.
Residents in the Oakridge community use woodstoves and other solid fuel burning appliances as the primary source of heat for their homes. Air quality in Oakridge is often threatened in the wintertime due to high levels of residential wood burning which causes high concentrations of smoke to settle in the area. Particulate matter present in smoke from fireplaces and woodstoves can be breathed in and accumulate in the respiratory system causing negative health effects.
In the past, LRAPA and the city of Oakridge have implemented programs and set goals to further the progress towards meeting the EPA's air quality standards. The air quality in Oakridge has steadily improved over the past 25 years because of various strategies put in place to reduce air pollution.
While the primary focus has been on educating residents about clean-burning practices, LRAPA also developed a green-yellow-red home wood heating advisory program that provides daily notification to the public about restrictions on residential wood burning.
The Warm Homes Clean Air Program initiated wood stove change-outs which ran from 2006 through 2011. This traded out old, uncertified woodstoves and replaced them with more efficient heating appliances. Applicants received either a partial or total rebate to replace their heating units and install insulation. Replacement heating units included pellet stoves, propane gas heaters, and ductless heat pumps. In total, through funding from various sources, LRAPA was able to fund the replacement of 90 woodstoves in the Oakridge/Westfir area.
In order to improve air quality and bring the Oakridge community into attainment with national air quality standards, LRAPA and various local agencies have implemented several programs.
Woodstove Removal Program
The state of Oregon requires the removal of uncertified woodstoves from properties when houses are sold. This includes residences, shops, garages, and outbuildings. The Oregon Heat Smart Law requires the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to confirm and track all uncertified removals at the time of sale.
For more information about woodstove removal, visit www.oregon.gov/deq or www.epa.gov/burnwise
Community Firewood ProgramDeveloped by Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative, this program provides affordable seasoned firewood to Oakridge residents. Firewood that has been split, moisture tested, and held in a covered storage area is made available for sale at an affordable price which allows for residents to have access to dry, seasoned wood throughout the winter months.
For more information, visit http://southwillamette.wix.com/swfc
The Oakridge City Police hired a part-time code enforcement officer to help monitor and educate the public about home wood heating and how to achieve better air quality. The code enforcement officer is available to respond to complaints from residents, issue warnings and/or citations, and act as a resource for the community to use to improve air quality.
The code enforcement officer is trained to read smoke through the EPA's 9 methods and can issue civil penalties and citations if residents are violating the opacity limits or burning prohibited materials.
Information about air quality, home wood heating, and burn bans are available in a variety of ways.
- TV and Radio Commercials
- Newspaper advertisements and fliers in the Dead Mountain Echo
- Outdoor school, hosted by the US Forest Service, for Oakridge middle school students
- Town hall meetings and information sessions at the Oakridge Public Library
- Online at www.LRAPA.org, Facebook, or Twitter (@LaneRegionalAir)
- Daily advisories are available at 541-736-HEAT, or sign up to receive text and/or e-mail alerts directly through LRAPA's alert program @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>