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Cutting wait times for firewood

The Forest Service has streamlined how Southern Oregonians can get firewood-cutting permits and made it easier to find where to cut their own wood — even on the same morning they decide they need more wood.

The Rogue River-Siskiyiou National Forest’s changes impact those cutting firewood in the High Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains ranger districts as a way to help those who heat their homes with firewood.

The old, archaic process could take up to a month or more for woodburners to start cutting their firewood, and that was seen as poor customer service in these two forest districts, forest spokeswoman Chamise Kramer said.

“This makes it easier and more efficient for them and for us, while also making it clearer where to go to get that firewood,” Kramer said.

In the past, potential woodcutters would have to scout the forest for trees and logs to cut, then make an appointment with the Forest Service to have specific trees and logs approved by the forest for cutting. That could take anywhere from a few weeks to more than a month.

“It was a very inefficient process,” Kramer said.

Under the new program, woodcutters need only make a quick visit to the ranger district office in Prospect or Applegate or the Interagency Office at 3040 Biddle Road in Medford, then use an updated map that’s even available on a phone app to find the exact areas they are allowed to cut.

Those who buy the permit will be given a paper map of cutting areas, including roads for access. They will be instructed to cut only within 50 feet of roadsides, and they can head right out to work legally.

Those buying firewood-cutting permits have dropped steadily from 1,287 throughout the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in 2013 to 853 forest-wide in 2019, records show.

The app — which is available on Avenza and relies on satellite service and not cellphone towers — can help ensure that cutters keep in the designated areas while they are on the ground, because maps can be tough for some people while in the field, Kramer said.

However, woodcutters still must carry their paper permit and paper map with them at all times, Kramer said.

Permit prices have not increased. The first permit costs $20 for two cords of wood, with each additional cord costing $10. The yearly limit of six cords per household also remains unchanged.

These changes are for personal use of firewood and not for sale, Kramer said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Ax and firewood