Firewood: Work now, warm later

July 09, 2003 11:00 pm
Wood for winter heat at home is unloaded, stacked and waiting to be split. Ken Schaer, left, and Charlie Chinn help each other get their woodpiles stocked before the first snow flies. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
Wood for winter heat at home is unloaded, stacked and waiting to be split. Ken Schaer, left, and Charlie Chinn help each other get their woodpiles stocked before the first snow flies. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

Firewood cutting is a popular pursuit on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest — last year the forest sold permits for about 12,000 cords.

The cost is $5 per cord, and you must buy permits for at least four cords. The limit is 10 cords per household, but if you need more wood you can buy commercial fuelwood permits for $10 per cord. The cutting season runs from May 1 through Nov. 30.

You can cut firewood in most places on the Wallowa-Whitman. Areas off-limits to cutting include: posted old-growth groves, wilderness areas, campgrounds and picnic areas, timber sales, North Powder River and Snake River wild and scenic corridors, research natural areas, Starkey Experimental Forest, along scenic byways, Baker City and La Grande watersheds, Spring Creek winter range area, along Wallowa Mountain Loop Road

Woodcutters can take only dead trees, whether standing or down, no more than 24 inches around at the stump. Don't cut any tree with green needles. If you're not sure whether a tree is alive, peel away a small piece of bark and look at the thin layer (called the cambium) between the bark and the heart of the tree. If the cambium is green, wet, spongy or light-colored, the tree is alive. Cambium in dead trees is dry and dark.

You can cut any species of conifer, except ponderosa pine.

After you've loaded your wood, remove the appropriate month and day mark from the load ticket that comes with your permit. Attach one ticket for each half-cord (tack, nail or staple the ticket to the end of a piece of wood so it's visible).

Woodcutters must use a chain saw with a screen-type spark arrestor of .023 mesh or less, and also bring a shovel and a fire extinguisher with a capacity of at least 8 ounces. You must remain in the cutting area for at least an hour after shutting off the saw, to watch for fires.

Woodcutting might be prohibited when fire danger is high. To check on current restrictions, call 523-1234.

More information on firewood cutting is available on the Wallowa-Whitman's web site at www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w. On the left side of the screen under" Natural Resources," click on "forest products, then on "firewood"