Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

West Silver Valley Air Quality

Daily Air Quality and Burn Advisory

The West Silver Valley is a historic mining area along the south fork of the Coeur d'Alene River in northern Idaho. It encompasses the communities of Pinehurst, Kingston, Enaville, Smelterville, and Kellogg.

As a result of its geography and climate, the West Silver Valley area is susceptible to frequent inversions in the fall and winter. Surface temperature inversions play a major role in air quality, especially during the winter when these inversions are strongest. Warm air above cooler air acts like a lid, suppressing vertical mixing and trapping the cooler air at the surface. Under these conditions, fine particulate matter primarily from residential wood heating, open burning, and slash burning becomes trapped and unable to move out of the area.

Particulate matter air pollution is of concern because exposure can have significant impacts on public health, particularly for people with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults. Even healthy people may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution.

Looking east toward Smelterville


Pinehurst Air QualityPinehurst

Efforts to Control Air Pollution

Over the past several years, DEQ has partnered with local communities to implement a number of efforts aimed at controlling particulate air pollution. DEQ has urged residents to avoid open burning unless no alternative is available and encouraged woodstove burners to burn only clean and dry wood, wood pellets, or manufactured logs; to burn smaller, hotter fires; and allow enough room for air to circulate. In addition, financial incentives have been provided to encourage homeowners to replace old, air-polluting woodstoves with new EPA-certified stoves, inserts, or natural gas or propane units.

Citizens Advisory Committee

In spring 2014, a citizens advisory committee was formed to help identify locally inspired, innovative ways to reduce air pollution in the West Silver Valley area and advise DEQ on actions that can be taken to control smoke emissions. Visit the West Silver Valley Clean Air Facebook page and brochure for more information.

Community Outreach Plan

The Citizens Advisory Committee would like your thoughts on the West Silver Valley Public/Community Outreach Plan. Please submit comments to Dan Smith at by December 1, 2018.

Next Scheduled Meeting

Previous Meetings

March 16, 2017
Meeting Notes
February 16, 2017
Meeting Notes
December 15, 2016
Preliminary Project Overview of the West Silver Valley Woodstove Change out Program
Reductions Handout
Meeting Notes
November 17, 2016
Meeting Handout
Meeting Notes
October 20, 2016
Meeting Handout
Meeting Notes
September 15, 2016
Meeting Notes
August 18, 2016
Meeting Notes
Modeling Scenarios
July 21, 2016
Meeting Notes
June 16, 2016
Meeting Notes
Woodstove Ordinance
Map: Zones
May 19, 2016
Meeting Notes
Albuquerque Woodburning Ordinance
Sandpoint Woodstove Ordinance
Franklin County Woodstove Ordinance
Idaho Statutes
April 21, 2016
Meeting Notes
March 17, 2016
Meeting Notes
RACM Options List
February 18, 2016
Meeting Notes
January 21, 2016
Meeting Notes

Interested in serving on the committee? Contact DEQ's airshed coordinator in Coeur d'Alene (contact information at right).

EPA Actions

Despite efforts to control particulate pollution in the area, air quality problems have persisted. Between 2011 and 2013, multiple exceedances of the federal health-based standard for fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) were recorded on DEQ's air quality monitor in Pinehurst. As a result, EPA notified DEQ in August 2014 of its intention to designate the West Silver Valley area as a nonattainment area for PM2.5, meaning it has violated the federal health-based annual standard for this pollutant. The area was designated nonattainment by EPA in January 2015, which became effective 90 days later.

Next Steps

The Clean Air Act requires states to improve air quality in areas that are not meeting federal standards to protect public health and the environment. DEQ is working closely with representatives of cities within the area, Shoshone County, and the citizens advisory committee to identify ways air quality can be improved, particulate pollution levels reduced, and the West Silver Valley area returned to compliance with state and federal air quality standards. The emission sources that are being addressed are open backyard burning, prescribed and/or slash fires, and woodstoves. A state implementation plan (SIP) demonstrating how the area will return to compliance with the PM2.5 air quality standard and maintain the standard must be submitted to EPA by October 2016. An approvable SIP, which effectively addresses the particulate air pollution problem, will require enacting local ordinances or state rules.

How You Can Help

Avoid adding to the pollution problem—help reduce smoke by following these burning techniques:

  • Burn woodstoves efficiently. Take a look at the emissions from your chimney every so often while you are burning. An efficient fire in your woodstove/insert will not produce excessive smoke. If you see a lot of smoke, chances are you need to change your burning practices. Burn only dry, seasoned wood to reduce creosote buildup, reduce smoke, and save money. Learn more about better woodstove burning techniques.
  • Conduct open burning of yard waste properly. Only burn tree limbs, yard debris, and other appropriate materials during daylight and when weather conditions are conducive to good smoke dispersion. Stay informed by checking DEQ's daily open burn forecast for the Pinehurst and Silver Valley area. Learn more about open burning regulations and alternatives in Idaho.
  • Dispose of logging debris when weather conditions are right. Property owners and land managers who must dispose of logging debris through open burning should avoid burning during periods of stagnant air when significant smoke buildup can occur. This smoke can linger for several days. Only burn when smoke will be transported up and away from the valley. DEQ, Idaho Department of Lands, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other large private timber land managers in Idaho participate in an effective smoke management effort called the MT/ID Airshed Group. Other burners in the area need to adopt similar burn decision efforts.

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DEQ Coeur d'Alene Regional Office

2110 Ironwood Parkway
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(208) 769-1422
toll-free: (877) 370-0017

Staff Contacts

Air Quality Manager
Shawn Sweetapple
(208) 666-4602

West Silver Valley Targeted Airshed Analyst
Dan Smith
(208) 783-5781

Airshed Coordinator
Ralph Paul
(208) 666-4609

Take A Survey

University of Montana survey on West Silver Valley air quality

DEQ Resource

Burn Clean, Burn Smart

Public Service Announcements

Related Information

Related Pages

West Silver Valley Air Quality Improvement Projects

Particulate Matter

Daily Air Quality Reports and Forecasts

Woodstoves and Air Quality

Better Woodstove Burning Techniques