Guest blog by Mary Ann Bonnell, Visitor Services Manager for Jefferson County Open Space, Colorado.
Is Offering FREE Firewood a Viable Solution for Pest Prevention?
It’s working for Jefferson County Open Space in Colorado. In fact, the Jeffco Open Space (JCOS) free firewood program is setting up its visitors for success while managing healthy parks. Any time a camper reserves one of our campsites at three campground locations, they are notified of park regulations and informed they will have free firewood provided at the kiosk. This is seen as a win-win for our forests and campers alike.
By providing free campfire wood at each campground, we are ensuring the wood is sourced locally and not brought from unknown locations or collected illegally from the surrounding park areas. The wood comes directly from one of the 29 parks which are strategically monitored and managed by Jeffco Open Space Forestry Professionals who thin stands, perform fire mitigation and harvest infested trees when appropriate. Some of the forest pests we manage for include mountain pine beetle and dwarf mistletoe.
Following required dry time, the logs are repurposed for fencing, trail maintenance and firewood. Often times, surplus wood is offered to the community at an annual firewood sale, furthering the impact of buying and burning locally sourced firewood.
Through this program, we can better regulate where firewood comes from while continuing to manage healthy and resilient forests. In addition, it gives us a positive platform to remind visitors about fire safety, putting your campfire “Dead Out” and preventing the spread of invasive pests. Signs and messages are visibly posted and heavily emphasized to all campers who often thank us for the service and education.