Pilot Validation of VSMOKE with Implications for Smoke Management Regulations
Bernier, Robert Michael
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Prescribed burning (Rx) has become increasingly subjected to various regulations. Among these regulations are ordinances that restrict downwind impacts of smoke from prescribed fires. Regulations can severely limit burn managers and private landowners from using Rx as a forest management tool. This research can help us move away from these simplistic regulations, and help promote a regulatory environment in which scientific tools and knowledge are used to prohibit only activities for which the evidence suggests there will be adverse consequences. This research was divided into three parts that consisted of: (1) a pilot validation of the smoke emission model VSMOKE-GIS; (2) review of southeastern statesâ smoke management guidelines (SMG); and (3) a geographic analysis of Virginianâ s current SMG. VSMOKE-GIS showed good accuracy in predicting the PM2.5 concentration and location of the smoke plume downwind. Criteria were identified when managing Rx smoke and the strengths, weaknesses, and implications were discussed of the Rx programs. The geographic analysis demonstrated quantitatively how much area may be impacted with minimal apparent benefit. This research should provide a clearer spatial picture of the smoke management barriers associated with Rx on private woodlands in Virginia. These results should be a useful tool in developing a regulatory environment that encourages Rx when the conditions are optimal. We conclude with future recommendations for Virginia.
- Masters Theses