CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the wake of the June 29 derecho, the Monongahela National Forest is converting its tree-impaired roads into free public firewood gathering sites in two of its hardest-hit ranger districts.By obtaining free firewood permits from the Marlinton and White Sulphur Ranger District offices, individuals may cut and collect up to five cords of dead and downed wood through July 31. An additional permit may be requested after collecting the first five cords.All firewood collected under the free permits is to be for personal use only, and not to be offered for sale.The June 29 storm "downed trees across the forest, many on forest roads," according to a news release announcing the free firewood permits. "The Forest Service would like to make this wood -- much of it high quality hardwood and easily accessible -- available to the public."
The free permits allow firewood to be cut from dead and downed trees found within Forest Service road corridors, from the top of the cut slope to the bottom of the fill slope. Many gated forest roads are being opened for the month to provide additional firewood cutting and collecting locations. Lists of such roads are available at the Marlinton and White Sulphur ranger stations.Forest Service officials caution those obtaining the permits not to block roads with their vehicles while collecting firewood, and to remove slash from the road surface and dispose of it either above the road's cut bank or below the fill slope.For a $20 fee, additional firewood permits, valid through Dec. 31, also are available at the two ranger stations, located in Marlinton and White Sulphur Springs, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information on the firewood permits, call the Marlinton Ranger Station at 304-799-4334.In other storm-related developments on the Monongahela, the storm-damaged Lake Sherwood Recreation Area and campground near Neola in Greenbrier County is scheduled to reopen Friday.