You may not have even noticed some of the no burn days that have been in effect so far this year but, as the temperatures drop, the controversy tends to rise. But how effective are no burn days in reducing pollution levels?
With the nice weather the area has seen recently, there hasn't been much of a need to fire up wood-based fireplaces but officials say it makes a difference in air quality. In the ten years since no burn days have been in effect, officials say it's been the single most effective rule the district has in reducing air pollutants.
While the number of violations tends to increase with how cold the winter is, officials say public opinion has been steadily moving toward acceptance.
"In the last ten years, we've seen the pendulum shift," said Jamie Holt with the Valley Air District. "It used to be we had a lot of calls with people saying, 'you can't tell me when to burn. Why do you have this rule?' Now we're seeing people call us when we're allowing burning saying, 'why are you allowing burning today? How come you're allowing my neighbor to smoke me out?'"
Officials say when no burn days are in effect, the district sends compliance teams through the area looking for violators. A first time offense carries a fifty dollar fine or an option to attend a public health class. Repeat offenses carry fines all the way up to one thousand dollars.