Letter to the Editor

Avoid burning wood

San SimeonJanuary 5, 2014 

A small reminder Dec. 26 from “county agricultural officials” about local versus non-local wood for burning misses a few salient points:

According to a tree expert from UC Davis, most “healthy” trees can successfully fend off a variety of pests, even non-local pests.

What primarily kills trees is pollution, particularly pollution at night. A study from Pennsylvania State in 1999 concluded that night pollution “damages plant cells which are essential to the basic process of transpiration.”

Sudden oak death, which is killing oak trees all over the state, has an air-borne factor. Trees get most of their nutrients from the air, not the soil. If the air is full of smoke at night, which it is, in San Diego and elsewhere, trees are unable to “breathe.” So they weaken, the pests take over and the tree dies.

The reminder should be: Avoid burning any wood, unless your life depends upon it. In all other instances, burning wood is simply a mindless, tree-killing frivolity.

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