Wood burning stoves are increasing in popularity year after year. This is due in part to the rising cost of fuel and that people are looking for alternative ways to heat their homes. Wood is a renewable resource that is available throughout the world, so it would make sense that more and more people are turning to wood burning stoves as a means to cut costs in a household.
Shaving a little cost from our everyday lives helps us have a little more money to go around. Some people find that clipping coupons helps them find the extra they need, while some simply turn down the thermostat during the winter and bundle up in blankets. I even know of one man who dressed up in a wetsuit all winter long while he was at home to keep from cutting the heat on at all. Although this final example is not recommended, it is proof that people will go to great lengths to save money, even stealing.
Stealing from Nature
Nature provides us with all of the goodness we need to survive. Even though most of us believe we cannot possibly service without our cell phones, nature is a great provider of food, shelter, and even all the tools needed to make fire. There is a problem, however, as of late, where people are stealing nature’s natural resources in order to heat their homes.
Nature preserves around the country are being targeted by thieves who are simply looking for a free way to heat their homes. As these thieves are not going onto the preserves and cutting down trees, they are still committing a crime. Often, donations of piles of wood are set out in these preserves to encourage a place for wildlife to grow and have a place to live. As humans, we see decaying wood as simply an eyesore, but for woodland creatures it can be a source for a meal of insects or a relaxing place for snakes to get out of the hot sun. Some people simply see these piles of wood as a great heat source and will take them without realizing the damage they are doing.
In addition to piles of wood, people are cutting up freshly fallen trees. Downed trees in a forest have the same effect as the stacks of wood we discussed previously. As these thieves may believe they are simply helping to clean up the forest they do not realize that many creatures within the ecosystem of the forest thrive off the unsightly decay lying on the forest floor. A downed tree, like a pile of wood, can be a place for animals to live or where insects can eat freely. The decomposition of trees allows the circle of life to continue. A tree falls, insects eat the tree, and larger animals eat the insects. Without one the other would not survive.
Watch for Signs
Recently, signs have been put in place to discourage theft from these forests, but many of the signs are simply thrown down where people believe that they are not doing wrong as long as they are not cutting the trees down themselves. As there are some regulations that state that it is legal to pick up wood in national forests, but these are for specific licenses given to people for certain reasons. The license does not give the holder the right to pick up wood wherever they feel like it.
If you are looking to cut costs on heating your home, be responsible about it. You would not go over to your neighbour’s home and steal wood from his wood pile to supply wood for your home, so why would you go into a national forest and steal from the animal’s home in order to save a few bucks on heating cost.
If you do not have the land to simply cut down the firewood you need, there are other, legal ways to gain access to firewood for free. The most viable option is to find a friend with a great deal of wood on their property. They may allow you to pick up wood all over their land or cut up fallen trees. You may even be able to help them get rid of unwanted trees. Some people want to clear their land or may not want a specific type of tree on the property. By cutting the trees they do not want you will be helping them save money by not having to pay someone to cut them and you will gain the firewood you need for free.
If you are short in the friends department you can always ask around and see if wood yards have scrap pieces of wood they are not planning on using. The other alternative is to look for pallets. Pallets are often discarded after the products placed on them are shipped. Many people will give you their discarded pallets which you can then break down into manageable pieces of wood.
As people are always looking for something free, be careful which type of wood you burn in your stove. Some treated wood contains chemicals that are not good to breathe in when burned. There are even some natural forms of wood that contain sap that can clog up your flue and can even be a fire hazard. The bottom line is that if you are looking for free wood take legal routes to gain access to it. Above all else, be safe and be careful.