Opposed to burner

We are writing to say we are very much opposed to a biomass burner on the Southern Oregon University campus off Wightman Street in Ashland. We feel the impact would be extremely detrimental to the air quality in this region. The air in and around the SOU area of Ashland is frequently stagnant, being at the southern end of the Rogue Valley.

There are several reasons why this would be a bad location. There are three public schools, a private charter school and a couple of day care centers and two shopping areas. Also there are outdoor playing fields, a middle school and a high school, not to mention SOU's football, soccer and baseball fields. There is also a public park, tennis courts and more baseball fields off Tolman Creek Road where people play nearly all year. This burner cannot be a healthy option for SOU students housed in the two huge campus dorms next to the burner.

It is admirable for SOU to be carbon-neutral, but not on the SOU campus site and not at the expense of the quality of air on neighbors, students and the general public along with the impact, noise and confusion of five trucks a day delivering biomass products.

We were under the impression that forest trimmings were better on the forest floor, regenerating new life, than in a burner. It also means we need to log to have the material for the burner. We need healthy forests for healthy air. Build more solar like the dorm buildings current have.

We understand that a decision has not yet been made and we hope the university will take the health of our community into consideration and decide against this burner. We looked at the SOU cogeneration website and the final summary. Everyone wants a healthy, clean plant. And while carbon-neutral is a great idea and looks good on paper, it is not for the common good. No matter what your level of education, your age or how long you have lived in Ashland, it is hard to learn or live while breathing unhealthy air.

Sally and Carl McKirgan


Address climate change

We just heard that 2014 was the hottest year on record worldwide.

I’ve lived in southwest Oregon for over 35 years and I love it here. I appreciate its natural beauty, the resources it provides as well as the caring people who call this watershed home. However, I am concerned about some disturbing environmental trends I’m seeing in our region, including:

Temperature — the last two years were the hottest on record.
Water — snowpack only 10 percent of “normal,” affecting domestic supplies, water storage, irrigation practices and recreation.
Agriculture — changes in crop types.
Fire — increased fire danger.
Ecology — high water temperatures made worse by low flows are harming salmon, and trees stressed from recent drought years are more vulnerable to disease.

We could live from day to day ignoring these trends or simply wringing our hands. Or we could join an increasing number of individuals, organizations and agencies who are proactive in addressing these issues in spite of any controversies arising from terms like “climate change”.

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN), for example, is organizing a climate summit on Oct. 13 and 14 in Medford to address these issues. See http://socanclimatesummit.info for details.

Eric Dittmer