New Brunswick

Crown firewood changes fueling anger in Miramichi region

People in central New Brunswick say new rules on how they harvest firewood from Crown land are unfair and could leave many of them without a vital fuel supply for the winter.

Residents can no longer hire skidders to get 7 cords of firewood from Crown land

People upset about changes in getting Crown firewood 1:41

People in central New Brunswick say new rules on how they harvest firewood from Crown land are unfair and could leave many of them without a vital fuel supply for the winter.

People crammed into a community hall in Doaktown Wednesday for a meeting about changes affecting Crown firewood. (CBC)
Before last year, New Brunswick residents could get a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and pay someone with a skidder to cut seven cords of wood for them from Crown land.

But now the use of skidders — heavy equipment used in a logging operation for pulling cut trees out of the forest — is banned.

The change has many people in central New Brunswick upset and they packed a community hall in Doaktown Wednesday night to talk about the change.

"It would take you all summer to cut two or three people's wood with an ATV or tractor," said Douglas Munn, the mayor of the rural community of Upper Miramichi, who called the meeting.

"It just don't make sense."

Upper Miramichi Mayor Douglas Munn says the price of firewood has been driven up by new rules that prevent skidders from being used to get firewood on Crown land. (CBC)
Munn says with fewer people now able to efficiently cut wood for residents, the price has gone up.

Stan Donovan, a local resident, also raised concerns.

"It's the first time ever I couldn't get a truckload of wood," said Donovan.

"I wound up buying a couple of cords of wood from a local guy."

Donovan said the Department of Natural Resources made the change because it doesn't trust people not to steal wood.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Natural Resources stated, "Changes were made … because in many cases cutting operations were being carried out on scales much larger than what the fuel wood program is intended for."

Progressive Conservative MLA Jake Stewart says a way of life on the Miramichi is under fire because of new Natural Resources rules about getting firewood on Crown land. (CBC)
Jake Stewart, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Southwest Miramichi, said his emails to DNR about the issue have been ignored and he's encouraging people to start making some noise.

"Our entire way of life in this area is under fire," said Stewart.

"So at this point in time, there people here think they're going to have to take it to the Legislature — to the lawn."

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