By Lorena Williams
Special to The SUN
The San Juan National Forest is offering free permits for personal-use firewood cutting to the general public through May 31. The free-use permits are for personal use only and exclude the cutting of firewood for commercial purposes.
Forest users are asked to comply with normal permit requirements and forest regulations, even when collecting forest products under the free-use allowance. Beginning June 1, free-use packets will no longer be valid and regular fuelwood permits will be available for purchase at district and forest offices across the San Juan National Forest.
These free-use permits are valid for cutting up to and a maximum of four cords of personal-use firewood. A cord is the amount of tightly piled wood in a stack 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. The authorization packets are limited to one per household and only individuals that are 18 years or older may participate in the free personal-use firewood program.
The forest is providing these authorization packets to the public in the following way:
• An individual can pick up an authorization packet at a National Forest office during regular business hours. A self-service table will be located near the front entrance at each office. Forest staff require that woodcutters leave contact information in the on-site drop box when picking up their packet.
• Woodcutters must carry the authorization packet with them while cutting. The authorizations do not need to be attached to the load. Firewood cutters are also required to carry an ax or shovel and have their chain saw equipped with an approved spark arrester when cutting wood.
San Juan National Forest officials urge the public to plan ahead and contact their local ranger district prior to starting their trip. Many forest roads are still not accessible due to mud, snow or snow drifts. In addition, traveling on thawing, saturated or muddy roads can result in resource damage and serious safety concerns, especially if visitors are unprepared.
For specific forest information and firewood cutting guidelines, please contact Pagosa Ranger District at 264-2268.