Permitting keeps track of forest resources


Last updated 11/7/2023 at 1:09pm

A look at the price board at area firewood sellers is not for the faint of heart. Your basic cord of pine is going to cost you $260 to $295 plus a delivery and/or stacking fee depending on your location and quantity ordered. Fancy some juniper? That’ll run you upwards of $360.

It’s no wonder then that many a log burner will head to the Deschutes National Forest to save a bundle. The vast majority in Sisters Country will stop by the Sisters Ranger District headquarters and obtain the necessary permit, free of charge. It entitles a household to up to eight cords of personal use firewood a year — about $2,500 in value — all free.

The season ends November 30 having started May 1, so the rush is on.

As always, there are those who blow off the permit, thinking the forest, being public lands, is there for the taking. No. These are public lands, true, but they are managed. Forest managers say that it is critical to habitat and forest health that the Forest Service institute best practices to ensure that there’s enough for everybody, and that fire risk is minimized.

The Nugget received a call recently from Sisters Trails Alliance to report one of its volunteers discovering bark stripping on Green Ridge cedars. A day later, a hiker walked into the Ranger Station to report the same thing.

Bark stripping is a relatively rare issue in the Deschutes National Forest, but one that is of great detriment to its trees. Bark stripping is the illegal stripping and harvesting of the bark of a tree for individual profit or prohibited use.

Cedar bark is prized for its durability, flexibility, and water resistance. It is peeled from trees with straight trunks by making a single cut and pulling upward on the trunk. Strips can be as long as 25 feet, and are carefully separated into layers. Soft cedar bark fibers have been used for all sorts of things including basket making and Christmas ornamentation and scenting.

Stripping bark from trees is illegal. The trees need their bark to help protect them from drought, disease, and insects.

It turned out, upon investigation, that it was not bark stripping, but some boughs, probably for wreaths or mantles, and completely legal to harvest. Stripping, usually done indiscriminately, can kill a tree. Cutting a few boughs here and there is unlikely to injure a heathy tree.

It seems reassuring to know that everyday citizens are being observant and protective of the forests. Poachers might want to take that into consideration when in Sisters Country.

In general, a permit is required to gather most forest products. Permits can be obtained at Forest Service district offices. Several forest products may be gathered without a permit — pine cones, boughs, fruits, and nuts — in small quantities for personal use.

A permit is required to gather or collect any forest product in bulk or for commercial purposes. Permits must be properly completed, including the Product Quantity Removal Record, prior to transporting products. When collecting forest products, be aware that national forest lands are highly interspersed with state and private land.

Jamie Olle, public affairs specialist for the Deschutes National Forest, said: “Forest Service staff conduct regular patrols to ensure the public is adhering to permit guidelines.”

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