Open burn ban in effect for WNC On April 3, the NC Forest Service issued a ban on open burning for all of Western North Carolina, the Citizen-Times reports. Within the city limits of Asheville, the ban includes recreational fires within 100 feet of a structure, including backyard campfires. In Buncombe County, barbecue and fire pits are allowed within 50 feet of a structure but they must be maintained and no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. Grand Canyon National Park is closed Photo from Getty Images After the federal government initially declined requests from park officials to shut down Grand Canyon National park, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt finally approved the park’s request after a county health official said keeping the park open put employees, residents and visitors in danger. The county health official made that call after a lodge employee tested positive for COVID-19. The ban was implemented due to the dry, windy, low-humidity days WNC is experiencing. “With spring wildfire season on us, coupled with the COVID-19 crisis, we don’t need to take any unnecessary chances with the dry weather and fuel conditions that will exist in the western part of our state during the next several days,” state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. Columbia Sportswear CEO cuts own salary maintaining salary of retail employees “It is a relief to a lot of the people in the park and the community members,” Grand Canyon spokeswoman Joelle Baird told the Associated Press. “We’ve heard from a lot of people being angry and frustrated and uncertain of the direction the Park Service was going.” “Columbia has been in business since 1938 and weathered many storms by keeping our focus on the well-being of consumers, employees and the larger community,” the company said on their website. There’s another positive story coming from the outdoor retail sector. Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle has announced he cut his own salary to $10,000 while continuing to pay employees their regular salaries, including retail employees working at now-shuttered stores.