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The Stove Workshop & Fair held April 6 at the Portola Veterans Memorial Hall was sponsored by The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District. From left, Carroll Clark of Mac’s Chimney Sweeping, Julie Ruiz of NSAQMD, Jeff Hahn, owner of Wolf Creek Wood Stoves, NSAQMD Executive Director Gretchen Bennitt, and DeeDee Driscoll of Quincy Hot Spot. Photo by Ian Hoffmann

Stove Fair a success

John Crouch, director of Public Affairs at the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, speaks to a full house about the importance of burning correctly, and the impact that best practices have on burning cleanly. Photo by Gretchen Bennitt

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District held its Stove Workshop & Fair on April 6 at the Portola Veterans Memorial Hall and more than 80 attended the event.

Those attending were interested in learning more about wood stoves, best burning practices, and the free Greater Portola Wood Stove Change Out Program made available through NSAQMD. Event organizers noted this event was, in fact, the best attended thus far.

The event began with a welcome to the crowded room from Portola Mayor Tom Cooley, followed by a presentation about air quality from Gretchen Bennitt, executive director at NSAQMD.

Tina Venable, director of Nursing with Plumas County Public Health Agency, also spoke to the group on the topic of wood smoke, and the health impacts that burning wood can have on the body.

She noted that air pollution has been identified by the EPA, American College of Cardiology and the AHS/ASA as a trigger for heart attacks, stroke and irregular heart rhythms, as well as other issues.

John Crouch, director of Public Affairs at the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), concluded the presentation portion of the event, engaging the room on topics related to wood burning, and the best ways to burn responsibly.

The HPBA believes that responsible wood burning is about reducing the emissions from a wood fire. Practicing responsible wood-burning habits such as building small fires and using seasoned wood, as well as using EPA-certified wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts, are all major components to keeping the air clean.

Cynthia Mejia, Spanish translator with the NSAQMD, speaks with attendees that are interested in applying for the Greater Portola Wood Stove Change Out Program. Photo by Gretchen Bennitt

As the presentation concluded, many moved outdoors to speak with experts in the field at further length, and had a chance to get hands on with certified stoves from Wolf Creek Wood Stoves and Quincy Hot Spot.

Fire building demonstrations were also held outdoors, with focus on properly burning from the top down, not from the bottom up, and other fire tending practices, which creates a more efficient and clean fire.

Greater Portola Wood Stove Change Out Program

Event organizers made sure that all interested parties went home with information and applications for the ongoing Greater Portola Wood Stove Change Out Program.

The program replaces uncertified wood stoves in the city of Portola free, with EPA certified heating devices such as a pellet, propane, kerosene or wood stove, which works to reduce the emission of fine particulates called PM2.5.

Twenty-two applications for the program were turned in during the event, and with less than two years to get PM2.5 exceedances into compliance, all are encouraged to take advantage of the program and get a completely free EPA certified heating device.

For further information on air quality, or to inquire about the change out program, contact NSAQMD at 832-0102.

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