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More people cutting own firewood on public land

October 28, 2008|The Associated Press

The slumping economy and high energy costs are prompting a significant increase in the number of people seeking permits to cut their own firewood on public land, federal land managers said.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Carson City District sold more than 75 firewood permits over three days last week, an increase of at least 25% from what would normally be expected, agency spokesman Mark Struble said.

"That's quite a bit for October," Struble told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "People are saying that a combination of high natural gas and propane prices and the souring economy has caused them to switch more to firewood."

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which stretches across Nevada and portions of the eastern Sierra, has sold 5,789 cords of firewood so far this year, up from 5,200 cords last year, agency spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski said.

"They are looking for more economical ways to stay warm this winter. We are definitely seeing that trend," Kalkowski said. "We are seeing more people who have never cut wood before."

With the increase has come a corresponding rise in the number of woodcutting violations on public land, said Dave Leveille, a patrol captain for the U.S. Forest Service's law enforcement division.

"The numbers are up. And that's probably partly because of the economy," Leveille said, adding that such violations were up about 30% over normal levels.

Violations, which can result in stiff fines, include people cutting wood without required permits, cutting live instead of dead trees and selling firewood.

The Forest Service also has seen an increase in the number of serious woodcutting violations, Leveille said.

One case under investigation involves a person accused of cutting about 30 live and protected trees in a protected watershed area near Ely in eastern Nevada.

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