In an email on Tuesday, the Town of Silt announced they are contemplating a controlled burn of the cattails in the wetlands along Hwy 6 (Main Street) between Kum & Go and Inter-Mountain storage units, across from the Red River Inn. There is no public hearing scheduled to address this.
The Town of Silt is working with Colorado River Fire Rescue and other area fire cooperators to evaluate the feasibility of burning the cattails at 10th and Main Street just east of Kum&Go. This could happen as soon as the week of February 23rd. Several factors will be considered before the burn would take place including weather conditions.
The town would like to burn the cattails in order to reduce the size of the wetlands, clean out the drainage ditches, and reduce the mosquito population. This will also be used as back burn operation training for area fire fighters. The burn will also help the remaining wetlands by adding nutrient to the soil and clearing the under thatch.
If you have any questions or concerns please call Gerry Pace at 970-876-2353 Ex106
Deputy Town Treasurer
Town of Silt
(P) 970-876-2353 ext 104
I fired off an email with my concerns and questions to Public Works Director Gerry Pace and copied to Mayor Aluise and Town Administrator Pamela Woods.
I am begging you in the strongest possible terms please do not do a controlled burn of the cattails next to Kum & Go.
I am currently in home treatment undergoing antibiotic therapy for a serious pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. If you burn the cattails I will have to leave town and go to a hotel in Glenwood until I can be certain the air is safe to breathe. And how will I know when the air is safe to breathe? Silt doesn’t even have an air quality monitor.
I am astonished that a community would even contemplate deliberately polluting the air, without even a public hearing. How can you possibly justify burning cattails in wetlands in the middle of town and polluting the air we breathe?
Aren’t those federal jurisdictional wetlands? In which case is burning even allowed under federal wetland protection regulation?
Do you have any idea what sort of toxins will be released into the air in the clouds of smoke? God only knows what was dumped, spilled, and/or leaked into that area over the years. Have you tested the water and soil for toxins?
Please stop and consider the people who live in this town who have compromised immune systems due to asthma, cancer, and other illnesses. Plus senior citizens, toddlers and infants, the most fragile in our community. This is flu season. People are suffering with upper respiratory infections, strep throat, etc. Polluting the air with unknown toxins could seriously harm the health of our entire community.
Have you considered alternatives? Why not take the natural approach and bring Lani Malmberg’s goats to town?
Finally, should the town decide to go through with this controlled burn, I assure you to protect my own, my family’s, and the citizens’ health, I will file an injunction and go to court to stop it.
I didn’t even mention the smoke hazard to traffic on I-70, Hwy 6 (Main Street), and the adjacent railway. However I found this warning about smoke hazards from burning cattails in the report “Prescribed Burning as a Management and Restoration Tool in Wetlands of the Upper Midwest” and sent it to the same recipients.
“… Burning cattail marshes presents a problem of smoke management. While the smoke from upland fires can be thick and hazardous to a burn crew, cattails (Typha spp.) produce an extremely thick, black smoke that Patty Meyer, Project Leader at the Horicon Marsh NWR in Wisconsin, compares to the burning of tires (pers. comm.). This presents an even greater hazard to the burn crew, and Meyer notes that several cattail marshes near roads are virtually impossible to burn due to the smoke hazard presented to drivers …”
Here is a 1-minute video of a controlled cattail burn near a golf course in Dayton, Ohio. Please note the billowing black smoke in an area that is probably only one hundredth the size of the acreage of the wetlands in downtown Silt.
Below is a photo of a 950-acre controlled burn at Crow Island State Game Area, March 13, 2014, conducted by the Michigan Department of Resources. Again note the clouds of thick, black smoke. This is what we will be breathing if they burn the cattails in downtown Silt, compounded by the likelihood of unknown toxins released in the smoke.
Click here to see more images of the 950-acre controlled burn in Saginaw County, Michigan.
This massive black cloud of smoke will not only destroy the air quality and harm the public health in Silt, it will have far reaching impacts on air quality and public health up and down the Grand Valley, depending on which way the wind blows. This is not just a Silt issue, this is a countywide issue. Imagine how long we will breathe the residue from this inferno. We will be washing the black soot from our cars, houses, and belongings for months.
This is insanity.