'Tis the season... for gathering firewood for the upcoming winter heating season, and the Bitterroot National Forest has temporarily opened up several new areas for the public.

Bitterroot National Forest Executive Assistant Joni Lubke said on Monday, that eight roads in the forest will be open as of July 15.

"We're opening up eight new areas that are normally closed to the public this time of year," Lubke said. "We're hoping this will be easily accessible firewood, because it is getting harder to find, so we hope this effort will help the public find the firewood they need, and in turn will also help us by keeping the areas cleaned up."

Lubke outlined the areas that will be open for firewood gathering.

"In the Stevensville Ranger District, we have the Silverthorn Loop road," Lubke said.  "Up the Skalkaho, we have the end of forest roads 364 and 13205 with fire decks from the old 41 Fire. In the Sula Ranger District, we have the Maynard Creek and Lord Draw areas. Finally, in the West Fork Ranger District, the Devil's Creek area will be opened up."

Lubke described the process of obtaining firewood permits.

"You'll need to come get your firewood permit from any of our offices," Lubke said. "It's seven dollars a cord with a four cord minimum purchase for $28, and each household is allowed 12 cords of firewood a year. These permits are available at any of our offices, in Stevensville, Hamilton, Darby, West Fork or Sula,"

Bitterroot National Forest Executive Assistant Joni Lubke