Hundreds of people will be able to enjoy cozy fires this winter due to a partnership between Oregon’s Wasco County and the Mt. Hood National Forest, located east of Portland.
Over 600 cords of firewood were cut and cleared from the Barlow Ranger District on the forest during last year’s firewood gathering season.
The district used a service contract with the county to cut and deck hazard trees thereby removing a long-standing safety hazard along a road. Some of the contractors and workers were residents of Wasco County. They felled, limbed, decked and piled slash. The timber was available for anyone with a valid firewood permit.
People of all ages and backgrounds came to the forest nearly 24 hours a day over several days to cut logs into manageable sizes. They filled dozens of pickup trucks.
One family traveled four hours using a GPS to get to the Badger Lake area where most of the firewood was located and spent the day gathering their five-cord limit. They said it was a worthwhile investment since the downed logs were decked and were located right along the road ready to be cut into firewood-sized logs. The family especially appreciated it because they were from the Portland area where firewood often isn’t readily available and can be expensive.
Another wood cutting team from the Portland area made the job into an assembly line of sorts: while one was cutting wood and loading a truck, the other was loading the cut wood into a trailer. One of the men said he worked for a logging outfit and usually buys firewood from his employer, but it wasn’t offered this year so the long drive was well worth the effort.
This partnership with the public serves the forest in important ways too. While providing members of the public with forest products, we are also restoring overgrown sections of forests. Removing this dead and downed wood, potential wildfire fuels, reduces the risk of catastrophic fires in the future.
In most cases, you really can’t even tell that there were huge log decks on the ground due to the clean, efficient, and conscientious manner by which the wood has been gathered. Both the forest and the individuals gathering wood get what they need and both are better off.