Firewood-cutting season in the Tahoe National Forest will open early this year on May 1 because of the unusually dry preceding months.
Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn said the season will get an early jump "so that folks can get their wood before increased fire danger limits woodcutting opportunities."
Although firewood season is planned to extend through Dec. 1 or until rain and snow make roads impassable, Quinn said woodcutters are being urged to "get their wood in early."
"This past January, February and March have been especially dry," Quinn said in a news release.
This marks the second straight year in which forest officials opened the season early after citing dry conditions.
"Usually it would open about two weeks later, in mid-May," said Mark Brown, the forest's vegetation program manager.
At $15 per cord, the woodcutting permits are a big money-saver for those who can cut their own firewood. There is a two-cord minimum and an annual 10-cord maximum per household.
The permits come with strict regulations to prevent wildfires.
Woodcutting hotlines with information on fire-danger restrictions are available for each ranger district and must be called each day before cutting.
Gasoline-powered saws and other internal-combustion engines, such as motorized splitters, must have a Forest Service-approved spark arrester installed.
Woodcutters must keep a 46-inch or longer shovel and an approved fire extinguisher (two-pound dry chemical or one-pound foam - ABC or greater) within 25 feet of where saws are being operated.
Quinn reminded woodcutters to carefully study the maps accompanying the permits to see which areas are closed to woodcutting.
In general, the permit allows removal of dead or down wood on forest lands unless otherwise designated. It does not allow cutting on private land.
Trees may not be cut if marked with paint, wildlife signs, boundary or other official signs.
Permits can be obtained at all forest ranger stations, forest headquarters or by mail. Applications for mail-in permits can be found online at www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe under "Passes and Permits."
The Tahoe National Forest's ranger stations are in Truckee, Sierraville, Foresthill and Camptonville. The forest headquarters office, at 631 Coyote St. in Nevada City, may be called at (530) 265-4531 for more information.