The local electric company, who has been taking all
the heat since an avalanche took out the power lines
(lots of angry users think they “should have saw it
coming”, etc. and don’t want to pay the 500% increases
in electric rates we’ll have running on diesel until
the lines are repaired) is cutting a right of way for
new power to an FAA site and local ski area. Other
developers – like at our new school site – many times
pile up the cut-down trees and burn them! Totally
wasting a perfectly good heat source. The electric
company, on the other hand, has a history of felling
the trees along a right of way, then allowing
residents to come in and take all the firewood they
want from the felled trees.

I think if I could cut firewood everyday – either
cutting, hauling, or splitting – I’d be alot happier
Joe. Seems my mood is always good after a day of wood
work. I don’t know of any activity other than deer or
elk hunting that produces the full-on sweat that
firewood gathering does. Every muscle aches, and my
back is stiff, but like trolling, I get up the next
day and can’t wait to do it again.

I’ve never placed a dollar value on firewood, so am
not sure if it saves money or not. What I do know is
I don’t depend on a heat source that’s in the Middle
Eastern desert. Nor has filling my oil tank ever
given me much exercise. Whatever the wood costs to
get I write off to much-needed exercise and
entertainment costs.

With the high and ever-rising cost of fuel oil – the
primary heat for most in Juneau – I figured there
would be a gold-rush for the wood. Yet only 4 or 5 of
us were up cutting wood. And, I saw a guy today who I
think passed up cutting any wood because the
downed-wood was not right next to the road for easy
pickings. I noted that, and so will remember to log
in my head where wood is somewhat off the road, and
perhaps leave that for later if there’s easy wood
available, knowing few may go get that wood.

I try not to be in a rush to get the wood cut and to
the truck. I had installed a Tommy Gate lift on my
truck for fish totes a few years back. This makes it
great for wood working as well. As long as I can roll
or end-over-end a log to the truck gate, the lift will
get it up to the bed, so I don’t have to lift it up
myself. This lets me cut longer pieces of wood, and
spend less time on site bucking up the pieces to
liftable sizes. That’s probably why many of the
others don’t want to go far from the road, since
hauling a round of wood through the slash and
ankle-twisting underbrush is not real fun. However,
rolling long pieces, while a lot of work, gets me more
bang for my buck.

Wood cutting is an obsession for me. If I know
there’s wood to be had, I’m always going to be looking
for my next opportunity to get another load or two –
knowing that when this wood availability is gone, I
won’t have another place I can get wood. It’s get it
while its hot mentatlity.

So, I won’t want for exercise for the coming weeks.
I’ll get in all I can, and have to find new places on
our property to put the wood. Firewood gathering is
one thing that was passed down from my dad to me, and
it’s as much a tradition to keep going as a
self-reliant activity.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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