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Firewood industry having successful season

Published: Nov. 7, 2021 at 4:57 PM EST
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HINESBURG, Vt. (WCAX) - According to the Agency of Natural Resources, 38% of Vermonters heat their homes with wood. So we asked businesses how they’re faring this season, just days after the first frost.

“This is probably the craziest year I’ve had, for sure,” said David Lee of Dave’s Logging and Firewood in Plainfield.

Lee says business is booming after other local shops recently closed.

“Everybody’s home, so they burn a lot more wood, too. They’re not just letting the oil kick on, the propane, whatever they use. It actually works for us a lot more, so we’re actually selling a lot more,” said Lee.

Lynn Gardner of Clifford Lumber, a five-generation family business, says he’s also seeing a steady stream of customers.

“We sell a lot of wood, so it must be working,” Gardner said.

He says a good season is when he sells around 1,000 cords of firewood, and he says this year he is right on track.

Collen Goodridge, the vice president of the Vermont Forest Products Association, says this demand is not surprising, since many are turning to the cheaper product.

“We are seeing higher fuel prices, so we’re thinking people are going to get their woodpile and then some this year to make sure they have enough,” said Goodridge.

But, Goodridge says like many industries right now, supply chain problems and material shortages are affecting operations.

“During COVID, it’s been hard to get parts for your equipment and supplies, so that’s changed a few things. If you break something, it may be fixed tomorrow or it may be fixed in three months,” said Goodridge.

“I literally had a day and a half of downtime last week because I couldn’t get the right parts, and I ended up having to drive a lot farther to get parts. That’s been one of my key issues, so I’ve been trying to buy two of everything,” said Lee.

“The demand for the wood outweighs the supply. There’s not a lot of people logging now, but because we have a good foothold in the forest products industry, I buy firewood from about 18 to 20 different suppliers,” said Gardner.

But these loggers know the importance of getting Vermonters their wood despite any hurdles they may face.

Charlie Pugh of Charlotte is stopping by Clifford Lumber to get some last-minute kiln-dried firewood, which will be his main source of warmth this winter.

“I try to heat mostly with firewood. We have a wood stove and keep that going pretty much all the time. We have backup oil and propane in the house, also, but I like the feel of the heat from wood fire, so we keep that going most of the time,” said Pugh.

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