Colorado Counties Offering Free Firewood Permits in Effort to Clear Avalanche Debris

AvyBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
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Credit: Jeremy Wallace/Aspen Times

A historic avalanche season in Colorado has left areas with an unusual problem: whole forests of trees flattened like matchsticks laying on the ground, increasing wildfire risks and providing breeding grounds for beetles. For authorities to clear this debris could take years, if not decades, and cost a fortune.

So to solve this issue, the Bureau of Land Management has come up with a unique (and obvious) way to get it all cleaned up: free firewood collection permits.

“It’s a win-win for both us and the public,” said Brant Porter, spokesmen for the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM recently announced free permits available for cutting and collecting firewood from avalanche slide paths on public lands along the Alpine Loop Backcountry Scenic Byway in Hinsdale and San Juan counties in southern Colorado.

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The Bureau of Land Management is offering free permits for cutting and collecting firewood from avalanche slide paths on public lands along roads in the two counties. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file

This winter, nearly 1,000 avalanches were reported to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center in the San Juan Mountains alone. And that’s just slides that were observed and reported, writes the Durango Herald. And it wasn’t until spring and summer when the snowpack began to melt that the extent of the devastation became clear.

The BLM’s initiative will allow the public to help in the cleanup effort and also fulfill some people’s need for firewood, Porter said. Win-win!

While there is no charge to collect wood, people do need a signed BLM permit before cutting and collecting. Part of the reason is to educate people where cutting is allowed, and how to do it safely, Porter said.

More information about permits in Hinsdale County can be found at the Gunnison Field Office or by calling (970) 642-4940. More information about permits in San Juan County can be found at the BLM’s Silverton office or by calling 387-9871.

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