Forest opens roads for firewood gathering

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Flathead National Forest announced Thursday it will open two specific roads for personal-use firewood collection from July 24 to Aug. 15. This will allow temporary access for woodcutting on some roads that are normally closed to public motorized traffic.

Both roads provide access to dead, down and standing dead trees.

The areas include:

• Patrol Ridge firewood on Hungry Horse Ranger District — Gated road 1651 in the Skyland area.

• Pioneer Ridge firewood on Hungry Horse Ranger District — Gated road 895D on the west side of Hungry Horse reservoir.

A Forest Service personal-use firewood permit is available for a minimum of four cords of firewood for $20. Woodcutters must have their permit while collecting wood and fill it out as required, the Forest Service said.

The permits include conditions.

Some trees behind these specific gates have been marked with paint and wildlife signs. Standing or downed trees with paint or signs are not to be cut. The Forest Service said these marked trees provide important habitat for many kinds of wildlife and it is important that they be left standing and undamaged.

In addition, firewood gatherers must clear the road surface and ditches of tree tops and limbs when done cutting and scatter or pile the material off of the roadway, the agency said.

All vehicles must remain on the road surface.

The area will be monitored by Forest Service personnel, as in previous years. Resource damage or the loss of marked wildlife trees could result in discontinuing the opportunity to cut firewood on year-long closed roads, the agency said. Public cooperation has been excellent in past years, said the Forest Service, which asked firewood cutters using the area to help continue to make this opportunity a success.

People visiting the area are asked to spread out, keep a lookout for other people and vehicles, and as much as possible keep the road open and passable for others, the agency said.

Maps of the woodcutting areas, as well as firewood permits, are available at the local ranger station in the woodcutting areas or at the Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Kalispell.

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