September often brings the first reminders that change is on the way. As I drove through the Potosi Ranger District last week, I noted a few trees were beginning their colorful change. Sycamore leaves are turning a light yellow-brown and a few black gums and sumacs are beginning to show reddish hues.
September is also the time when cooler temperatures begin to arrive. The first stretch of cool, crisp nights is a harbinger for firewood permit requests.
Firewood cutting is a tradition for many families. Mark Twain National Forest offers permits to cut firewood from areas located within closed timber sale units or other national forest areas with down timber. Permits allow an individual to cut up to 4 cords of wood.
We are changing the way we manage our firewood cutting program to improve customer service. Firewood permits can now be purchased from the Potosi office from September 1st to March 1st on Mondays and Thursdays, or by appointment.
I want to emphasize that individuals seeking a firewood permit should call the office first to learn about the availability of cutting areas. Currently, there are few cutting areas available. Older cutting areas have been permitted and future sites are not yet open because timber sales are still active. But availability of cutting areas will change as timber sale units are closed.
September is also the perfect time to get reacquainted with Mark Twain National Forest after a long, hot summer. One place to consider is Marble Creek Recreation Area. This area, with its beautiful creek, camp and picnic grounds, is located between Fredericktown and Arcadia on Highway E.
Marble Creek, which flows 20 miles through the rugged St. Francois Mountains, is named for deposits of attractively colored dolomites which were mined and used in the building trade as “Taum Sauk Marble”. Within the recreation area, you can see the concrete remains of a grist mill dam and building foundation. This quiet campground and recreation area is the main trailhead for the Marble Creek Section of the Ozark Trail. This 8-mile segment goes to Crane Lake and is open for hiking, equestrian and mountain bike use. Horses are allowed at the trailhead, but not within campground or picnic area.
The Potosi-Fredericktown Ranger District office in Potosi is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. The office number is 573-438-5427. For more information about Mark Twain National Forest, please visit our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf.