The air in north Idaho’s Silver Valley has gradually improved to the point where it may soon meet federal standards.
“This was a wonderful year for air quality," said Dan Smith, an airshed analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in Kellogg.
"We had a late spring, which had a tendency to keep fires down, as far as the air quality goes, as far as forest fires go," he said.
This week, Smith says the state will take one more step designed to move air quality closer to the federal goal.
His agency will accept applications from home and business owners who want the state to replace their old wood stoves with newer, more efficient models. It’s a program the agency has run for several years in the Silver Valley. Smith says the state has replaced about 130 new, cleaner-burning stoves at private homes over the last several years.
“We also realized that there a lot of people that have businesses that have a wood stove in there that they rely on, whether that’s a business like a body shop or some machining shop. A business that is operating in the town that uses wood heat. They have not been eligible in the past. They will be eligible this last year,” Smith said.
He says other remedies have also helped clear the air. Those include limits on logging slash burning in the hills above the valley and a push to get homeowners to burn dry wood.
Home and property owners have until the end of the year to apply for the wood stove change out program.