Tahoe strikes a familiar chord
Half a cord of almond — 8:30 a.m. — and just huck it down the hill.
With the seasons changing guard, the summer crowd off the hill and Lake Tahoe chilly to the touch, firewood suppliers are in high demand.
Steve Wood, owner of Affordable Lawncare and Snow Removal, estimated he’s delivered about 300 cords per year in his 13 years of business.
He had one of his drivers chuck a half cord of hardwood down a hill into Bob Daly’s backyard, where it would be transferred with a wheelbarrow and stacked. Two cords of lodgepole pine, delivered by Mapes Enterprises, will arrive before winter.
“We go through at least three cords a year,” said Daly, who is already using his wood stove to heat the house on cold nights.
In his 21 years at Lake Tahoe, Daly is skeptical about the belief that a half-cord of hardwood burns longer than a cord of softwood. He plans to mix the lodgepole pine — also known as tamarack — with his almond.
“Almond tastes good so I thought I would enjoy burning the tree,” Daly said.
Rick Mapes, owner of Mapes Enterprises, has been in business for about 18 years. The company deals with softwood – firs and various pines – that can be found around Tahoe because transportation costs for hardwood are too high, Mapes said.
He places bids with the U.S. Forest Service and state parks to remove downed trees. When Mapes first got into business, cords were selling for $100 each. Now they’re at least $175.
“Firewood is firewood,” Mapes said. “It’s a lot of work but that’s why it pays good because nobody wants to do it.”
Wood, who didn’t change his last name to fit his timber business, receives logs from area tree cutters and truck shipments from northern California.
“Most of our wood is shipped in from the Central Valley,” he said.
Butte Creek Wood Products trucks up Highway 50 about four times a week to deliver eucalyptus, almond, walnut and oak to Wood’s business and other locations in North Shore.
The company, based in Chico, which is located in the almond capital of the world, receives its chopped timber from orchard removal and tree services.
D.J. Gomes, the owner of Butte Creek Wood Products, has a few used International trucks for wood delivery. Repeated drives up the steep grade to Tahoe is punishing for a vehicle, he said.
“There is a high wear on the truck,” Gomes said. “The truck will last you two years until you have to replace it. Those hills are pretty harsh.”
South Lake Tahoe resident Shelby Moody and her husband used a U.S. Forest Service permit to get wood in designated areas. This year they decided to go gas, and forgo the four to five cords they burned every winter.
“I’m feeling very happy,” she said. “It’s more clean and you just turn it on. It’s controlled like regular heat and I still get the effect of having a fire. I’m consolidating my life, so it’s just one more hassle that I don’t have to deal with.”
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