HAMILTON — The Darby/Sula Ranger District has announced that it is opening portions of the Lost Horse Drainage for the public to access personal use firewood. Up until now, firewood cutting has been prohibited in Lost Horse Canyon.
“We are opening portions of the Lost Horse drainage to the public for firewood cutting in order to reduce the amount of fuel buildup available to a wildfire,” said Darby/Sula District Ranger Eric Winthers.
While the majority of the area is now open to the public in an effort to provide more accessible firewood, there are still a few areas along Lost Horse Road, including designated Research Natural Areas (RNAs) where no firewood cutting will be allowed. “Areas that are off limits are clearly marked and firewood cutters are encouraged to clean up after themselves and to not block the road,” said Winthers.
The Bitterroot National Forest (BNF) has recently updated its 2018 Firewood Cutting Map to reflect these new changes. The free maps are available at all BNF offices, on their website, or through the Avenza Map Store.
The forest also temporarily opened several roads last month to allow the public to more easily access personal use firewood. The areas are scheduled to remain open until August 15 or sooner depending on fire conditions and restrictions. Maps of each area are available at BNF offices and online.
Woodcutters are reminded of the requirements to have a spark arrester on their chainsaws and to carry a shovel, bucket and fire extinguisher at all times. Please use wide shoulders and turnouts for parking. Not all roads have turn-arounds for trailers. As with wood cutting elsewhere on the forest, no trees are to be felled onto the roadway and all slash must be piled.
Law enforcement will be monitoring these areas, including Lost Horse Canyon. Forest officials advise woodcutters to drive defensively and notify them of any downed trees or road damage.
You can purchase firewood permits at any Forest Service office, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. The cost is $5 per cord and there is a four cord ($20) minimum purchase. Each household is allowed a maximum 12 cords of firewood per year. Permits are good through March 31, 2019.