March 8, 1999


Dear Sir or Madam:

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is currently developing revisions to the regulation governing agricultural burning in California. Agricultural burning refers to the intentional use of fire for vegetation management – in areas such as agricultural fields, orchards, and wildlands like rangeland and forests. The planned use of fire on wildlands is generally referred to as "prescribed" burning, which is the focus of the expected improvements to the regulation.

The existing regulation has been effective in managing current levels of prescribed burning for wildland management. However, in light of planned increases in prescribed burning for this purpose, ARB is reevaluating the guidelines to minimize the public health and nuisance impacts of smoke from prescribed fire. The health-based air quality standards for particulate matter and the upcoming federal regulations to improve visibility in national parks further support the need to reassess these regulations.

To solicit input on the changes we are considering, ARB invites you to participate in one of a series of regional public workshops to be held in several locations throughout California between late March and May. The dates, times, and locations for six of these workshops are shown on Attachment 1. A general agenda for the workshops is provided in Attachment 2. A seventh workshop, to be held jointly with the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, will be scheduled at a later date.

Based on preliminary scoping sessions, we are developing a "concept paper" to provide a starting point for discussion at the regional workshops. This concept paper will be available on ARB’s website on March 17, 1999 – one week prior to the first workshop. The website address is Those without access to the Internet who wish to preview the concept paper prior to the workshops can request a copy from Ms. Susan Paul at (916) 322-6048. Following these workshops, ARB staff will develop draft, regulatory amendments, which will be discussed at future public meetings. We plan to finalize our proposal for the Board’s consideration and adoption in late 1999. The staff’s complete proposal will be available to the public for comment 45 days prior to the Board Hearing.

All meeting facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities. If accommodation is needed, please contact Ms. Bertha Bache at (916) 327-6181 two weeks prior to the meeting. Persons with hearing or speech impairments can contact us by using our Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (916) 324-9531 or (800) 700-8326 for TDD calls from outside the Sacramento area.

I look forward to discussing our proposal with you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at (916) 322-5350, or Mr. Bill Wilson of my staff at (916) 324-9747. You may also e-mail Mr. Wilson at






                  Terry McGuire, Chief
                  Planning and Technical Support Division


Attachments (2)


cc:   Susan Paul
Bertha Bache
Bill Wilson


Attachment 1

Air Resources Board 

Regional Workshops to Discuss Proposed Changes to Prescribed Fire Regulations

(Revised April 26, 1999)



March 24, 1999
River Lodge Conference Center
1800 Riverwalk Drive
Fortuna, CA
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

San Luis Obispo

April 29, 1999
County Government Center
Supervisors Chambers
1050 Monterey Street
San Luis Obispo, CA
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

March 31, 1999
Chester Civic Complex
222 1st Avenue
Chester, CA
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

May 6, 1999
Contra Costa County Farm Bureau
5554 Clayton Road
Concord, CA
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

April 7, 1999
Air Resources Board
Board Hearing Room, Lower Level
Sacramento, CA
2020 L Street
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Palm Desert

April 13, 1999
City of Palm Desert
Council Chambers
73-510 Fred Waring Drive
Palm Desert, CA1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield

May 17, 1999
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Joint Workshop with the San Jaoquin Valley
Unified Air Pollution Control District

In Person Presentation
San Joaquin Valley district Office,
Governing Board Room
1990 E. Gettysburg Ave.

Remote Video-Tleconferencing Facilities
San Jaoquin Valley District Office
4230 Kiernam Ave., Suite 130

San Joaquin Valley District Office
2700 M Street, Suite 275

Attachment 2

Air Resources Board

Regional Workshops to Discuss Proposed Changes to Agricultural Burning Regulations

Preliminary Agenda

Welcome and introductions

 Local District Remarks

 California Department of Forestry, U.S.D.A. Forest Service and other public agency remarks

 Air Resources Board staff presentation

  • Current prescribed burning program – successes and issues
  • Proposed concepts for revisions
  • Schedule for revisions

 Roundtable Discussion with all participants – possible areas for discussion

  • Overall concept, including use of regional Burn Coordination Centers
  • Burn planning

      --Mechanisms for reviewing smoke management plans and accepting burn registrations

      --Minimum burn size for smoke management plans

  • Burn day decisions

      --Determination of maximum burning limits

      --Possible burn day categories

      --Authority and process for issuing burn day decisions

      --Burn allocations in acres burned or tons of emissions – conversion between the two measurements

      --Burning on "no burn" days

      --Ensuring the public is adequately informed about burning activities

      --Provision of real-time meteorological & air quality data

  • Assessing burns

      --Methods for assessing downwind smoke impacts while burn is in progress

      --Triggers to begin using contingency measures

      --Evaluation of completed burn

  •  Resources
    • Additional information (meteorological, geographical, burn type) needed
    • Additional resources necessary to implement proposed changes and potential sources


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