Steamboat Springs There is a stash of firewood on the lower levels of Buffalo Pass that is already cut to manageable lengths. In some cases it's even stacked by the side of the road, waiting for permit holders to come and haul it away.
Diann Ritschard of the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest said the Forest Service cut 10 acres of heavy oak brush as part of a fuels-reduction program in the Hahn's Peak Ranger District this summer. The area that was thinned begins just past the sign announcing the forest boundary, Ritschard said.
Once the original permit is purchased, additional loads can be purchased in half-cord volumes.
There is more good oak than just that which is stacked by the road, Ritschard said. Firewood gatherers will also be able to walk through the trimmed area and pick up cut lengths. Ritschard cautioned against wandering outside the obvious area of the fuels-reduction program in order to avoid trespassing.
The Forest Service intends to thin a larger tract of gambel oak next summer, and the firewood should be readily available again in 2004, Ritschard said.
The local oak is a relatively good source of heat, although not the best. The oak yields 8,400 British thermal units, compared with 11,100 for piÃ±on pine. Lodgepole pine yields 8,600 Btu, Douglas fir, 9,200, aspen, 8,400 and spruce, 8,100.
People gathering spruce and pine should make certain the wood they gather is already dry to reduce the risk of pine and spruce beetles being transferred to trees in their yards. The beetles live only in the green cambium layer of trees, so dead wood is safe, according to the Forest Service. All spruce and pine should be burned during the season it was gathered -- the beetles don't fly to new trees until spring.
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