Burning fields near Powell High School does affect PHS athletes, but not by much


Abby Landwehr

Freshman Jace Bohlman looks at Powell High School’s track as smoke from a nearby burning field rises above it.

When living in Wyoming during this time of year, it isn’t uncommon to see flames and black smoke rising from farmers’ fields. This practice is called field burning and it means exactly what the title suggests.

According to Wikipedia, field burning is often used as a technique to kill weeds and weed seeds as well as clear the land of any existing crop residue. Because this method is inexpensive, it is commonly used locally.

But what happens when farmers burn their fields near residential areas and public spaces?

Powell High School is almost completely surrounded by fields. This includes the track, the soccer fields and the tennis courts. Because of this, it’s not unusual to see a cloud of smoke nearby during sports practices.

Elsie Spomer, a sophomore in track and field, said that fields are burnt by the track almost every day or 3-4 times a week.

“I have asthma so running gets kind of hard but it’s not awful,” Spomer said. “The smell is worse than my lungs.”

The smell is worse than my lungs.”

— Elsie Spomer

Another athlete said he faces a similar challenge.

“The smoke has a big impact because limits the amount of oxygen I get,”  sophomore Joey Hernandez said. “It’s just overall difficult to run in.”

Hernandez said that running near burning fields is similarly like training to run in a higher altitude.

“There really isn’t a solution,” Hernandez said. “We may run possibly somewhere else while they burn but overall fields aren’t that big of an issue.”

Jaya Smith, a PHS senior in soccer, says that the burning fields don’t affect her much.

“It doesn’t affect my performance; I’m able to work just as hard as any day,” Smith said. “I just can’t stand the smell.”

Sports practicing at the high school aren’t the only ones to experience field burning. Other sports such as golf encounter this problem as well.

“If it is a close field [burning] it’s hard to keep track of balls,” sophomore Taber Wilson said. “[It’s] even harder to concentrate on the game which is a big part of golf.”

Though most Powell High School athletes consider field burning to be a nuisance, the majority said that they understand why it’s important this occurs though.

“If there’s an alternative to burning then go for it,” Spomer said. “But burning is really good for the fields.”

Added Smith: “I don’t think there is any solution. [Field burning is] on the farmer’s schedule.”