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Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Idaho

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In the coming days, when the paperwork is in order and fields are harvested and dry, north Idaho farmers will begin burning their fields. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality estimates 7,000 acres will burn on the Rathdrum Prairie during the 45-day window allowed by the agency. An estimated 30,000 acres on the reservation will burn during a longer season running through Sept. 27. The annual burning stimulates the production of Kentucky bluegrass seed, and sparks a debate between growers and clean air advocates. "We haven't found a way to grow grass and not burn,'' said Linda Clovis, public relations director for the North Idaho Farmers Association. "Think about what the farmers go through every year, when they have to burn. They hate it. It's a nightmare for them.'' It is a nightmare for asthma sufferers, too. "Here we go again,'' said Bob Bostwick, press secretary for the tribe. "The difficulty for tribal leadership is to take all the information, put it on the table, and try as best they can to consider all sides.'' Grass field burning in Washington state has been all but eliminated, though wheat-stubble burning continues.