Fort McCoy News November 14, 2014

Fort McCoy firewood-cutting season in full swing

Fort McCoy's Firewood Program is providing opportunities for those who use firewood.

"Our firewood cutting season (in training areas) began Sept. 1 and continues through April 15 next year," said Forestry Technician Charles Mentzel of the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch. Firewood collection in the cantonment area and stump-disposal areas is allowed year-round. The permit also allows collecting wood chips from the stump-disposal area.

Photo 1 for firewood article
A sign designating a firewood-cutting area is shown on Fort McCoy's South Post. The installation firewood-cutting season in training areas began Sept. 1 and continues through April 15, 2015.

Mentzel oversees the post firewood program. Working with Directorate of Plans, Training, Maintenance and Security Integrated Training Area Management, along with Fort McCoy Forester Jim Kerkman and Permit Sales Coordinator Julie Steinhoff, Mentzel determines which of the training areas on the installation's 60,000 acres of land will be open to firewood gathering.

For those collecting firewood this fall, there is plenty of wood to be found. "There is a lot of oak wood available, which is the most preferred by our customers," Mentzel said.

Annually, there are about 180 firewood permits purchased each season. "That translates to about 500 cords a year that are removed from post, and makes our areas safer," Mentzel said.

"When people come in to get a firewood permit, they'll receive a map that shows which training areas are open to get firewood," Mentzel said.

"And even before customers buy the permit, if they want, they can stop by and get a map to scout out the areas where they want to get firewood."

The Permit Sales Office is located in building 2168, and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. At the office, customers can purchase — cash only — a daily firewood permit for $10, or a monthly permit for $50.

Steinhoff said she works with Mentzel to update maps monthly, if required, so customers have the latest information.
Mentzel said the Firewood Program also helps with fire prevention and land management.

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In many of the designated firewood-cutting areas, already downed trees are ready to be cut into firewood pieces.

"When people collect firewood here, it has to be from standing dead or downed timber," he said. "By removing the dead wood, we reduce both overhead hazards to Soldiers and fuel reduction for wildfires thus improving the land for military training."

Daily firewood-cutting permits are valid only for the date listed on the permit. Monthly permits are issued and based on a calendar month. For example, if someone buys a monthly permit for December on Dec. 15, then that permit is only good until Dec. 31.

"Most monthly permit buyers get their permits at the beginning of each month so they have the full time to use them," Steinhoff said.

Also, most designated firewood collection areas are also marked with signs.

Following are some additional rules people need to remember about the firewood program.

• Firewood will be cut, and wood chips collected in authorized areas only.

• Only standing dead trees and dead trees lying on the ground will be cut in designated training areas. Only downed trees may be cut in the cantonment area.

• All cutters/collectors are expected to call the Game Line, 866-277-1597, or check the iSportsman website, https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net, to check if the cutting/collecting area is closed to public use because of training activities.

• The permit holder is allowed one vehicle (no semi trucks) with or without a trailer and helpers to cut, split, and/or load the firewood while in the presence of the permit holder. Permit holders are highly encouraged to have helpers in case of accidents or other emergencies.

• Permits must be in possession of the permit holder when cutting/collecting and/or traveling on Fort McCoy property. Helpers may have a separate vehicle for personal transportation but are not allowed to load firewood or wood chips into that vehicle, and the helpers are not allowed to cut or split wood without the permit holder present. Cutters are authorized to cut and remove wood only on the day or during the month authorized by the permit.

• Cutting, hauling, and collecting firewood will be conducted during daylight only. Civilian vehicles must adhere to the posted black-out drive requirements.

• Areas of commercial firewood or timber sales are off limits to firewood permit holders. This wood is the property of a person or corporation and any removal constitutes theft.

• All permit holders are required to display a 5-by-8-inch activity information card on the passenger's side of the windshield with the permit holder's full name, activity (firewood cutting, wood chip collecting), and emergency contact phone number. Fort McCoy Police Department personnel routinely patrol the cutting/collection areas.

For more information about the program, call the Permit Sales Office at 608-388-3337.

(Story prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resource Branch.)