Forest Service Rules Just a Waste of Wood

From Tom Bean Photography

There’s probably more to this situation than meets the eye…wish we had a way to hear the other side of the story. From the Payson Roundup here.

Forest Service rules just a waste of wood
February 17, 2012

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Now, we don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Lord knows, we don’t want to fall into the category of a fella whose wife buys him a nice new Jeep and then complains that it does not have leather seats.

Still, as we paused this week to choke on the smoke from burning piles of debris off Houston Mesa Road, we couldn’t help but lament the waste of all that perfectly good firewood.

Mind you, we’re awfully grateful for the millions of dollars the Tonto National Forest has spent thinning fire break buffer zones around almost all of the endangered communities in Rim Country. The Payson Ranger District has done a marvelous job of getting those projects ready then jumping on every possible source of funding to hire thinning crews. Those buffer zones may well save the community from destruction should the next Wallow Fire come roaring at us out of the dangerously overgrown forests of Rim Country.

Still, we also agree with the indignant complaint of residents this week who were dismayed to see all of that oak and juniper set to the torch.

The slash piles left by the thinning crews have been sitting out there for months. The Forest Service does allow people who purchase a permit to trudge out to the piles and haul armloads of wood back to the road. But rangers have also threatened to arrest people who try to get wood without a permit.

That’s a waste — a waste of wood and a waste of good will.

Instead, we think the Forest Service should make every possible effort to let locals gather up as much firewood from those slash piles as possible. The Forest Service should advertise the locations of the piles and then host a firewood day so residents can take their quads, pickups and Jeeps out to the piles to haul off everything they can before the contractors set fire to what remains.

Residents struggling to pay their extortionist propane bills would get a welcome break. The Forest Service would earn the local love it so sorely needs.

And all of us would have to choke down less smoke when it comes time to burn the wood that’s left behind.

Don’t get us wrong: We appreciate the shiny new fire break. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also dream of leather seats.

So while I was searching for a photo, I found this from the Dolores Ranger District here.

Dolores Public Lands Office Plans to Burn Slash Piles

Release Date: Nov 10, 2011

The Dolores Public Lands Office plans to begin burning slash piles in several locations on Haycamp Mesa as early as next week, beginning Monday, November 14th. The slash piles are a result of fuel reduction projects completed earlier this season. The public was allowed into the project areas after the work was completed to collect firewood from the pre-cut and stacked decks of ponderosa pine. The left over slash in these project areas will be piled and burned.

Pile burning operations will take place:

• In the Chicken Creek area along the Millwood Road (FS Rd. 559), north of Joe Moore Reservoir, on 104 acres treated for fuels reduction.

• In the Rock Spring area along the Grouse Point Road (FS Rd. 390), on 61 acres treated for fuels reduction.

• In the Little Carver area, south of the Indian Ridge Road (FS Rd. 557) on 11 acres treated for fuels reduction.

All three burn pile locations are located in ponderosa pine forests and will be monitored by a local staff of qualified firefighters. The projects are contingent on weather conditions that will help to assure predictable fire behavior and maximum smoke dispersion.

Can’t tell if driving off road to the piles is the issue, or needing a permit or ??

2 thoughts on “Forest Service Rules Just a Waste of Wood”

  1. Back in ’91, one of my insect salvage sales had a provision that included cutting logging slash into firewood lengths, in areas close to campgrounds. This included hand-piling of smaller diameter slash, and covering the piles, for easy burning in the fall. I’d be willing to bet that regular firewood cutters scooped up some of those piles of firewood. I had some concerns about them directionally-felling trees so their slash is outside of that enhanced treatment zone.

    I would hope that some kind of firewood for seniors program could arise. You would be amazed at the age and condition of firewood cutters I have seen. It is pretty sad to see a hobbled married couple cutting firewood out of cull decks and landing slash piles. However, I do enjoy seeing a group of seniors going out and filling their trucks and trailers with firewood. They are very efficient, and they don’t leave the woods until they are full.

  2. The trouble is, I don’t think they have “log decks” on the Tonto NF. Last year only 18 acres were “commercially thinned.” Before that, we have to go back to 2007 when 34 acres were commercially thinned. Pathetic. I think what we’re seeing is “pre-commercial” thinning. In forests that have a timber industry, it’s still possible to “back the pickup up to the slash piles on the landing” and load up at your ease.


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