Illegal woodcutting likely on the increase in Fairbanks area

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