TONASKET – National Forests provide so much — clean air, water, jobs, food, wood, and more. Each year, thousands of people heat their homes with firewood gathered from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest As snow melts from valley bottoms many people are antsy to go into the woods to resupply their firewood piles.
Due to the record snowpack, state-wide it’s 120 percent of normal according to Department of Ecology’s website, most national forest roads remain snow covered and not accessible via wheeled vehicles.
“Permits for gathering firewood from the Tonasket Ranger District are usually available for purchase beginning April 1,” said Tonasket District Ranger Matt Reidy. “This year, though, there is still a lot of snow on forest roads and they are impassable for wheeled vehicles.”
Currently, that is the situation across most of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
“As soon as the roads can be opened to wheeled vehicles without damage to the roadbed, we will begin selling woodcutting permits,” Reidy said.
Ranger district personnel across the forest will assess road conditions as snow melts off. Although the first day of spring has past, winter-like conditions still exist in the forest so it may take a while for roads to melt out and become firm enough to support motor vehicle use.
“Our normal woodcutting season is May 1 through Dec 31,” said Methow Valley District Ranger Mike Liu. “We may open certain areas a little early this year because winter logging operations plowed out certain roads and they are melting and drying out faster as a result, but all other areas are still snow covered.”
In past years, depending upon road and weather conditions, woodcutting permits became available for sale starting as early as April 1 on some ranger districts, but generally May 1 is the date they are sold at most forest offices.
Depending upon road and weather conditions, woodcutting permits will be sold starting mid to late April on the Tonasket and Cle Elum Ranger Districts. Woodcutting permits will be sold starting May 1 at all other Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest ranger stations, headquarters office and Forest Service office at the Omak Visitor Center.
Forest users are encouraged to contact local ranger district offices for information on current road conditions and the woodcutting permit program. Information is also available on the forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/okawen .
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