Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:04 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Have you heard the buzz?

Staff Writer


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Janosh Kirk, left, and Guy Douglas, right, cut firewood at the Baycrest Hill spruce-bark beetle kill mitigation area on Monday.

People wanting to collect free firewood have probably one last weekend to gather wood at the Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation project on Baycrest Hill. Loggers with Paul's Services of Anchor Point have been cutting decks of beetle-kill trees off access roads. Families can collect up to 15 cords of wood per household per year in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. A free permit, available at the borough annex office at 206 E. Pioneer Ave., is required to collect wood.

On Monday for the President's Day state and federal holiday, about a dozen trucks lined up at the end of one road. Neat piles of logs four rows high had been stacked off the road. Trucks backed in and people bucked up logs and loaded them up. It wasn't hard to find the site — just follow the sound of chainsaws.

"It's almost like fishing salmon on the Anchor River," said Janosh Kirk of the activity as he paused to sharpen his chainsaw.

A full-size pickup stacked to the top can hold about three-fourths of a cord, said Duane Bannock, head of the Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation project.

Baycrest personal-use firewood site


Turn right at mailboxes after the ski trail road on Baycrest Hill


9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily until project closed


At Kenai Peninsula Borough Annex

206 E. Pioneer Ave. 235-8840

8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday,

closed 1-2 p.m. for lunch

For more information visit www.borough.kenai.ak.us/sbb/pages/firewood.html

Joe Schwartz, the marshal at the firewood site, kept the gathering orderly. He directed traffic, watched people to make sure they ran chainsaws safely and gave a hand loading wood. Schwartz's job is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Bannock praised Schwartz for helping keep the firewood gathering running smoothly.

"He's not afraid to help load," Bannock said. "He'll even sharpen your chain saw."

The Baycrest site has 41 acres that will have 100 percent of dead spruce trees removed. Next fall slash will be burned. Logging roads will be left to revegetated and if funding permits, replanted with trees. Some roads will become ski trails. The borough has been working with the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club on routing trails and keeping skiers out of the area. Loggers even cleaned up deadfalls on old trails.

Bannock estimated about 500 cords will be taken from the Baycrest site. Schwartz said about 40 loads go out a day, and Bannock said on one Saturday 75 trucks of wood went out — and not just trucks.

"We've seen Subarus just picking up pieces, gleaning pieces," he said.

Funding for the mitigation project runs out in 2012. Another personal use firewood project starts in several weeks at Clam Gulch.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.