Fiscal doldrums spur more to look for firewood

RENO, Nev. — The slumping economy and rising energy costs are prompting a significant increase in the number of people seeking permits to cut their own firewood on public land, federal land managers said.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Carson City District last week sold more than 75 firewood permits over a three-day period, an increase of at least 25 percent from what would normally be expected, agency spokesman Mark Struble said.

"That's quite a bit for October," Struble told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "People are saying that a combination of high natural gas and propane prices and the souring economy has caused them to switch more to firewood."

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which stretches across Nevada and portions of the eastern Sierra, has sold 5,789 cords of firewood so far in 2008, up from 5,200 cords in 2007, agency spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski said.

"They are looking for more economical ways to stay warm this winter," Kalkowski said. "We are seeing more people who have never cut wood before."

With the increase has come a corresponding rise in the number of woodcutting violations on public land, said Dave Leveille, a patrol captain for the U.S. Forest Service's law enforcement division.

"The numbers are up. And that's probably partly because of the economy," Leveille said.

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