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TGB Discussing Firewood Needs; Denies Hideout Cut While Approving Several Others

By Joe Morey

News Editor


At a recent weekly meeting of the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB), LCO Conservation Director Brian Bisonette said the Tribe can’t sustain 1,500 cords of firewood per year.


Each year Tribal Members are permitted to take cord loads of firewood for their home heating, but Bisonette and members of the TGB believe that there are some who are taking the wood and selling it off Reservation.


It is estimated there are 200 homes on the Reservation that are using the wood, and 30 of those are Housing units. Bisonette explained that this amount would normally use 1,000 cords, but in the past couple years that amount has risen to 1,500.


“We did 900 home delivery cords last year,” Bisonette said of LCO Conservation. He stated to TGB that maybe some regulations need to be put in place or they would be having the same conversation again next year.


“We need to focus on our Elders and people who need to heat their homes, not on guys who want to make money,” Bisonette said.


TGB Member Gary “Little Guy” Clause said, “It’s always about the money but we need to get away from that. This is our asset and it belongs to all of us, not just a few, those guys who are selling it.”


Bisonette said there is pulp wood in the amount of 235 cords that can be purchased for $8,000 and they could use ARPA funds to make that purchase because it’s a fuel source. He noted with that purchase and the 750 cords they are estimated to have, they would still be 500 cords short to reach the 1,500 cords.


Chairman Louis Taylor said we need to know how many Members are using wood stoves. This would eliminate those who are selling wood off-Reservation.

Bisonette pointed out that there will be some who don’t have a wood stove who claim they have an Elder who needs a pick up load.


LCO TGB Member Michelle Beaudin suggested having Elders sign off on firewood they receive as a way to keep track, just like they do for snowplowing.


Discussion involved whether the Tribe needs to verify people have wood stoves for those who go and get firewood for them and should LCO Housing do inventory of which Housing units are using woodstoves.


Bisonette said there are two forestry cuts that the TGB approved would be used for next year’s firewood supply, but he remained concerned on where the Tribe would acquire 500 cords to meet this year’s need.


The first of those two cuts included on Trepania Road one side for sale of timber, but also for safety because it would allow the sun to hit the road in the winter time.


Beaudin and Little Guy expressed their oppose to any cut and prefer to leave the forest as is.

“I don’t want to cut it at all. Let nature take its course. We don’t need the money,” stated Little Guy.


BIA Forester to the Tribe, Tim Johnson, stated to the TGB that a cut allows sunlight to get to the road which is good for safety, and it’s good forest management.


Tweed Shuman said it’s important to manage the forest.


“Tim goes to school and has done this for years and these guys learn about managing it,” Shuman stated.


Another cut was brought up for vote which was a section on NN by the old dump. After discussion, Johnson said on NN they could cut to 100 ft back from the road so trees don’t fall on the road, which would be a safety hazard, and then they would leave a 200 ft buffer between the cut and the road.


LCO Vice-Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge asked the Elders in attendance at the meeting what their opinion was on the cuts. Marie Kuykendahl said they have to consider the road safety in our communities. Mona Ingerson, along with Gouge, explained they don’t like clear cuts and hope they can leave some trees.


Prior to voting 3-2 in favor of the NN cut, it was decided to be a select cut. Voting in favor were Gouge, Shuman and Carley while Beaudin and Little Guy opposed.


A motion to thin some forest around the Hideout property was defeated in a vote of 4-2 by the TGB, with Gouge and Shuman voting in favor and Beaudin, Carley, Barber and Little Guy opposed. Chairman Taylor stated for the record he was opposed to any cuts by the Hideout as well.


“Any cut around Hideout would take away from the aesthetics of the area,” Taylor noted.

Tweed motioned to do a thinning of about 5 acres on the north side of the property and stated it wouldn’t be a clear cut.”


Ben Hansen of Futurewood Corporation who manages cuts for the Tribe, stated the cut would be for Aspen to try to utilize the wood before it tips over and dies. He explained the cut would leave aesthetics rather than going in and doing a big clear cut.


Shuman stated the Tribe is in need of firewood. He also said the cut wouldn’t have been near any home that is on the property. He said a buffer would have been left so the thinning wasn’t visible.


Another cut that was approved though is 130 acres by N and CC that Hansen explained would be left aesthetically pleasing because its way off the road, and the cut would generate some revenue for the Tribe.


DJ Aderman, President of Futurewood, explained to the TGB that foresters are taught to think in the long-term. He said they go into an oak stand and take the sick, diseased, sawed-off trees first and that improves the overall health of an oak stand.