Spring Fever has Ups and Downs
OK, first off, an admission. I played hokey from work today, sort of. You see I am on the road on Saturday for a trip to Meigs County Ohio where I will be reporting on a special clothing drive for the needy. So my boss gave me a half day off. What a day to have off!
Just in time for the opening of the gates at the Big Sandy Superstore arena for the WSAZ Home & Garden Show here in Huntington, the temperature soared to its highest level of the year. At 3 PM this afternoon, the mercury crested at a balmy 73 degrees.
Along with the warm sunshine, Mother Nature fashioned a sweet southerly breeze which caressed the emerging crocus. Afternoon humidity levels plunged to a parched desert-like 20%. No wonder only a few clouds dared to dot the afternoon horizon. Add it all up and you had the makings of a TC Top 10er.
But with the good comes the bad. As we come out of a very cold and dry back end of winter, the ground is much drier than normal in our forests. Without the benefit of a leafy canopy yet, the sun is able to penetrate deeply into the forest beds. Windy, warm and sunny days like today act to extract even more moisture from the soil through evaporation. The result, we enter Home and Garden weekend with a higher than normal risk of brush fires.
A chat with Dexter Connelly, district forest manager out of Betsy Lane Kentucky, indicated a rash of brush fires from either arson or faulty burning practices in the Kentucky Coalfields on Friday. Of the 18 fires reported there, a 400 acre near Dorton in Western Pike County was especially problematic.
To be fair, Saturday will be cloudier than Friday and afternoon showers will dampen our forests. But the soaking rains that normally accompany a frontal passage at this time of year simply are not in the cards.
So with that in mind, any outdoor burning should be done only when observing the letter of the law. I offer the following information from the foresters.
HERE ARE THE RULES/REGULATIONS
Remember, only vegetative material can be burned during these times. TRASH MAY NEVER BE BURNED. EVER. Also, many cities/municipalities have local laws that supersede state laws. So check with your local fire department before burning.
OFFICIAL SPRING FOREST FIRE SEASON (AKA RESTRICTED BURNING SEASON)
West Virginia March 1 thru May 31
Ohio March 1 thru May 31
Kentucky Feb 15 thru April 30
When Can you burn?
West Virginia 4P until 7A
Ohio, Kentucky 6P until 6A
What else do you need to know? Law requires you stay with your fire until completely out. Best to use a 10' safety strip cleared to bare ground around fire. In Kentucky, you may not burn within 150 feet of the forest line.
Two final words of caution,;namely, foresters are concerned about the change to daylight Savings time that begins this weekend. This will allow an extra hour of legal burning during what is normally a warmer, windy and drier time of day. So please, give the foresters a break. Burn only when you have to and obey the letter of the law else you may be subject to a fine and significant court and cleanup costs!
Also, burning pollutes the air and makes the EPA unhappy, not to mention your neighbors. Why not find a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of those leaves and twigs? Composting them into your garden will make your flowers and veggies all the more happy this spring and summer!