Labor Day smoke

Travelers are shrouded in smoke as they drive along U.S. Highway 97 through Bend on Monday.

For years the Bend Chamber of Commerce has celebrated some of the great things about moving to Bend: “With over 300 days of sunny blue skies and the magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, living in Bend, Oregon, is like being on a permanent vacation.”

Now we have also earned a grim reputation for having some of the worst air quality in the country on a few days this year. The air quality was terrible for most and especially awful for people with asthma, lung disease and more.

Living in a valley abutting mountains wildfire smoke can get locked in. When the Forest Service has done controlled burns in the surrounding forests, it has always had to worry that the smoke would flow down at night into Bend. That never got this bad.

We can’t fix the geography, the weather patterns. We can support state and federal efforts to thin and do prescribed burns to reduce the severity of some wildfires. We can do our part to think carefully about what through our actions gets into the air.

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