Snowpack delays road openings and firewood season

USFS-Matt Reidy photo Snowy road at Bonaparte SnoPark.
USFS-Matt Reidy photo
Snowy road at Bonaparte SnoPark.

OMAK – We rely on National Forests for 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.

This winter’s snowfall is sticking around longer above valley bottoms due to cooler than normal springtime temperatures in Okanogan County. While there are some benefits to a good snowpack, it can be frustrating to those looking to access their National Forest via wheeled vehicles. There will be a delay opening National Forest Roads on the Tonasket and Methow Valley Ranger Districts and, subsequently, a delay in the availability of Firewood Permits.

“Permits for gathering firewood from the Tonasket Ranger District would usually be available for purchase beginning April 1,” said Matt Reidy, Tonasket District Ranger. “This year, though there is a lot of snow on the forest roads, they are still impassable for wheeled vehicles.”

The district will continue to assess road access into mid-April, according to Reidy.

“As soon as the roads can be opened to wheeled vehicles without incurring damage to the roadbed and surrounding areas, we will begin selling wood permits,” he said.

For more information about road conditions or the firewood permit program, please contact the Forest Service Offices in Omak 509-826-5145, Tonasket 509-486-2186 or Winthrop 509-996-9000.