The Montpelier Ranger District area boasts approximately 400,000 acres and includes lands on part of the Cache National Forest. Dennis Duehren who is the district ranger said they sell between 3,000 and 3,500 cords of firewood every year. That translates to between 600 and 700 households that are purchasing a firewood permit.
“More than two thirds of that we sell out of a couple of vendors in Preston,” Duehren said. “And a huge percentage of those permits that are sold out of Preston are to folks south of the border.”
He said the reason people are limited to 300 feet from a road is to protect the land.
“A high percentage of our road system is built along the little bit of flat ground along our streams,” Duehren said. “So we don’t want them driving or camping in or on our streams or too close to where there is not enough buffer to handle the erosion and runoff that occurs.”
It is that very erosion that is part of the reason Cache Valley doesn’t participate in selling firewood permits.
“Having that timber cover in those riparian areas is very important to those streams,” said Jennefer Parker who is the district ranger for the Logan Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. “It’s very important to add woody debris to the fish habitat and provide shade to fish habitat. Even though people might think, ‘Well, the trees are dead.’ They’re still providing a very important function so that’s one of the reasons not to have wood permits.”
She said those streams are home to many native species such as the Bonneville cutthroat trout.
“If you lose your riparian systems the water heats up and you don’t have your native species,” Parker said. “So, we want to keep our eco systems strong and healthy so our native species that have been here forever, essentially, stay around.”
She said that though they don’t sell the permits annually, they will have some free firewood locally that people can pick up once they get a letter of authorization from their office.