June 27, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

The paperwork is finished, the ordinance is in place, and only a few technicalities need to be addressed as Union County approaches another field-burning season.

The county commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt an ordinance tightening the management of smoke in the Grande Ronde Valley. The ordinance calls for improved forecasting through the Oregon Department of Agriculture, additional dust-measuring equipment and a second weather balloon.

The recommendations came from a committee that formed last November to study smoke conditions. The committee held public meetings and one public hearing that attracted about 80 people.

Nobody from the public spoke during Wednesdays final ordinance hearing.

The grass seed and wheat growers support the countys smoke management program with a fee of $2 per acre. Growers pay an additional $4 per acre to the state.

Earlier this year, some wheat growers said they would be willing to research the viability of direct seeding, a method that injects seed and fertilizer into the field and does not require that stubble be burned.

The field burning season begins July 15 and ends Sept. 30. The management center is in Imbler.