Division of Forestry hopes to repurpose beetle-killed spruce into firewood

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 9:43 PM AKDT
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There are three new areas in the Valley where people can harvest firewood, and one of those areas allows people to make use of spruce trees that were killed by spruce beetles.

The Alaska Division of Forestry’s new personal-use firewood areas are located off Buffalo Mine Road near Sutton and Willer-Kash Road in Willow.

A spokesperson with the division said the areas were opened due in part to the growing demand for wood from residents in the Mat-Su valley who use firewood as a primary way to heat their homes.

The division will still require people to attain permits for the firewood, which costs $10 per cord. Households are allowed up to 10 cords of firewood and permits can be purchased at the division’s website

The firewood site at Willer-Kash and Buffalo Mine Road are both open to birch and spruce harvest. However, parts of the Buffalo Mine Road site are only open to harvesting spruce killed by spruce beetles.

Spruce beetles have become a menace in Southcentral Alaska. One of the best ways to mitigate spruce beetle infestations is to harvest and process damaged or dying spruce trees. Dead trees are still useful for firewood, pulpwood and house logs,

The Division of Forestry said the firewood “should be cut into stove length pieces, split and stacked to speed the drying process and minimize attractiveness to spruce beetle.”

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