AUGUSTA (AP) – With an autumn chill in the air during the past couple of days, Mainers’ thoughts turned to their firewood supplies for the winter ahead. And from the looks of things now, prices won’t be cheap.

A strong demand for wood, combined with tight supplies, is pushing prices for hardwood upward by 10-15 percent across the state.

“I used to be able, in my area of midcoast Maine, to get seasoned wood for $120 a cord cut and split, with green wood cut and split for $90,” said Peter Lammert of the Maine Forest Service.

“Now, cut and split green is $120 to $125 and seasoned is $150,” said Lammert, whose job is to link log suppliers and mills.

Supplies became tight as Maine’s wet weather kept loggers out of the woods. Meanwhile, Mainers who ran out after last winter’s bitter cold kept their stoves burning overtime are bolstering this year’s orders.

Terri Mounce, office manager at Sherwood Wood Products in Augusta, said that at last count she had more than 2,000 cords to deliver to customers, some of whom have doubled this year’s orders.

“My phone’s ringing all the time, people wanting to know where they stand, asking ‘How much longer do I have to wait?’ ” said Mounce, whose company is only taking orders for eight-foot lengths.

In Skowhegan, firewood dealer Larry Liberty said he’s had such a hard time getting logs that he’ll probably be able to produce only a third of the 3,000 cords he sold last year.

Nearly 26 percent of Maine households use wood for heating their homes, according to a 1999 survey for the State Planning Office.

Of the households using wood, nearly 9 percent said it is their sole source of heat.

The average wood-burning household consumes less than four cords a year, according to the survey.

AP-ES-08-24-03 1300EDT



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