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Fees for burn permits in Yakima County on the rise

Residential burn permit fees for those living in unincorporated Yakima County went up again for this year's burn season, which runs from March 15 to Oct 15.

The permit, which is good for the entire seven-month period, increased from $37 to $43.

The move means that residential burn permit fees - which only cover the burning of yard debris - have more than doubled in two years, from $20 in 2007.

Dave Caprile is a public information officer for the Yakima Regional Clean Air Authority, which sets the permit rates. He says the permits have gone up in price to help the Clean Air Authority cover its program costs, which include staff, public education efforts, materials, inspections and enforcement of clean air regulations.

The permits started creeping up in cost earlier this decade when I-695 eliminated a state-funded air pollution program that benefitted Yakima County.

Caprile says the catalyst for permit price hikes in the last couple of years is in part because of the Lower Valley's increased population and the growing numbers of unincorporated residents - including those not in urban growth areas - who are seeking burn permits.

"We weren't covering the cost of our program," he said. "The more smoke is in the air, the more attention that we have to pay to it."

Caprile said the Clean Air Authority also seeks to help residents find ways to get rid of their yard debris without burning, such as taking the material to the Lower Valley Transfer Station for recycling or using chippers.

He said the Clean Air Authority has programs to help cities get started with a chipper program, but the municipalities have to eventually cover the cost of the program.

Residential burn permits are only available to those who live in unincorporated areas of Yakima County. Even after purchasing a permit, residents are asked to contact the Clean Air Authority before burning to make sure there is no burn ban in effect.

Residential burn permits are available in the Lower Valley at Valley Western, Inc. at 224 Division Street in Grandview, the Granger Police Department at 102 Main Street, the Blue Sky Market in Mabton at 330 North Street and Country Corner Market in Sunnyside at 2601 Sheller Road.

For more information, call the Yakima Regional Clean Air Authority at 509-834-2050 or visit www.co.yakima.wa.us/cleanair/.

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