BAKER CITY - Firewood cutters will need to plan ahead when buying firewood permits this year due to a nationwide increase in the minimum charge for forest product permits.

Effective Jan. 1, the minimum charge for a firewood permit rose to $20, an increase from $10 in previous years.

"The minimum price for a firewood permit has increased to $20; however, the cost per cord has not changed and will remain at $5. This equates to a minimum permit of four cords for $20," said Bob Rock, natural resources staff officer on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. "In the past, woodcutters were able to purchase a minimum of two cords for $10 and would purchase multiple permits throughout the season until they met the 10-cord-per-household maximum."

The same increase applies on the Malheur and Umatilla national forests.

"You will still be able to purchase a two-cord permit, though with this change in minimum charge, there will be no cost difference between purchasing a two-cord permit or a four-cord permit," Rock explained. "If you expect to purchase several permits during the season, it will be helpful to plan ahead."

Purchasing the right combination of permits, could save some money.

Permits can be purchased for any amount between one and 10 cords; however, the permit will cost a minimum of $20. Each household is allowed a maximum of 10 cords per calendar year.

This increase, the first in over 20 years, is nationwide and reflects the increased costs to support, administer and prepare these small sales for all forest products such as firewood, mushrooms, and posts and poles, the Forest Service reported.

"The one exception is for the personal-use Christmas tree permit; that will remain at $5 per tree," said Rock.

Firewood season is scheduled to open on May 1.

Firewood permits will be available at all Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla national forest offices and at several local vendors. Woodcutters are reminded to cut their firewood early in the season to avoid the fire danger-related closures that are typical for August and September.

For additional information contact local Forest Service offices or the forest web sites at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/ and www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma.

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