Water, Earth, Sky

Scott Shenk writes about the environment.

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4 p.m. burn law end caps a fiery spring

After a busy spring wildfire season  quenched  only by recent rains, the state’s ban on open burning before 4 p.m. ends tonight  for another year, the Virginia Department of Forestry says. Four weeks ago, on Easter Sunday and Monday, seven small fires grew into big ones, mainly  on national forest land in  the western part of the state. Smoke from  several of them was visible  for miles, and a portion of Interstate 64 was closed for a time.  During Easter week, my son and I saw fires and smelled smoke on almost every foray we made from Douthat State Park in Clifton Forge, where we were camping.  One afternoon,  a helicopter  dropped its water  bucket into the park lake, then sped off to a nearby smoking mountaintop. More than  43,000 acres  have burned  since Jan. 1, the department says.  Eleven of those were in Shenandoah National Park, along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The department notes in a press release that burning prohibitions continue in some areas. “The state Air Pollution Control Board prohibits open burning in the metropolitan areas of Northern Virginia, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Roanoke and Winchester during the months of May through September. This ban is in effect 24 hours a day. ” For more information, click here and here.