U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer Frank Mosbacher announced the new policy in an e-mail Monday, saying that the public will be interested in learning the new policy, which will help people get heating wood during hard economic times, and will help clear dead trees from the forest.
Forest Supervisor Ramiro Villalvazo said the woodcutting season in the El Dorado National Forest will open early this year, beginning on March 16, rather than the usual April 1. The 2011 fuel-wood permits will expire on December 31.
Mosbacher said the “opening date change came about partly due to the economic times and the many people requesting woodcutting permits.” He said “woodcutting will now be allowed year-round in the El Dorado National Forest.”
He said all roads in the national forest are not currently open, and motorized vehicles are not allowed on dirt roads since the wet weather seasonal road closure remains in effect in the El Dorado National Forest. Parking is allowed one car length off the road. Dirt roads will be opened when they dry out and the seasonal closure is officially lifted.
Forest Supervisor Villalvazo said: “I have decided that we will issue fuel-wood permits year-round and forest-wide. I believe there are opportunities for the public to find downed wood off of roads that are open during our seasonal closure.”
He said: “Given the economic times, I want to allow folks to be able to collect wood if they can.” Fuel-wood permits can be purchased at any El Dorado National Forest Ranger Station.
Fuel-wood must be removed according to the terms of the permit. No standing dead trees larger than 10 inches in diameter can be cut. The permits are non-transferable, non-refundable and are sold for $15 per cord with a two-cord minimum purchase.
Open roads and those subject to seasonal closure are identified on a map that is free-of-charge and available at all El Dorado National Forest offices and on the El Dorado National Forest website.
Story by Jim Reece