Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
“If we can get people to burn properly, it would be a significant reduction in wood smoke.”
Life among the towering redwoods along the Russian River can be idyllic, but not when the temperature drops and folks fire up wood stoves to stay warm.
All too many of those stoves belch smoke that often shrouds the closely packed homes on wooded slopes and in canyons along the river from Forestville to Monte Rio, said Chuck Ramsey, president of the Russian River Alliance, a consortium of community groups.
“It seeps and settles in the redwoods, and it doesn’t dissipate,” said Ramsey, who is spearheading a campaign to address the problem, largely through educating residents on proper wood-burning practices.
Ramsey, a resident of The Terraces, a community of at least 200 homes on a hillside in Monte Rio overlooking the river, regularly breathes his neighbors’ smoke. From his laundry room, he can nearly touch the roof of one house and its chimney is about 20 feet away.“
It’s not like you can just close your doors and windows and keep it out,” he said. Wood-frame homes in The Terraces were built as summer cabins in the early 1900s and are hardly airtight, he said. Monte Rio and Rio Nido are hardest hit by smoke, Ramsey said, but the problem persists along the lower river.
But wood smoke pollution, readily visible on cold, dry, windless days, doesn’t register on the air quality monitor on the roof of the Veterans Memorial Hall in Guerneville, and thus doesn’t sully Sonoma County’s official record as a clean-air haven.