Fairbanks borough and state officials are seeing an increase in illegal woodcutting, and they're blaming it on the rising price of heating fuel -- Fairbanks has some of the highest heating costs in the nation, and the city doesn't yet have access to natural gas. People are cutting in out-of-bounds areas, and they're even cutting big, mature spruce trees, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
As Fairbanks residents struggle with some of the highest energy costs in the country, many are turning to cutting and burning firewood to save — or in some cases make — money. As with any sought-after commodity, the surging demand for wood has spawned a growing cult of illegal and misguided woodcutters on state, borough and private lands, officials say. ...
Illegal woodcutters come in different forms. Some don’t bother getting a permit. Some cut in non-designated areas. Some cut more than their permit is good for. Some sell the wood they’re cutting with their personal-use permits. In November, [state forester Kathryn] Pyne said she counted about 40 people selling firewood on Craigslist in the Fairbanks area and only a few were commercial contractors who have purchased timber sales from the state, she said.
“At $300 a cord, it becomes lucrative,” Pyne said.
Read more from the News-Miner: As demand for firewood increases, so does illegal cutting