Letter Re: Home Heating in the American Redoubt States

I enjoy your site and have learned a lot from you and others of a similar mindset.  I enjoy the fact that the info you present is from the perspective  of  a Christian. 

I have been looking at land in Wyoming and while there is some very affordable land I have to wonder how anyone is going to heat their abode when “cheap oil” is gone.  I cannot find land that is in my budget that has any trees.
I have spent most of my life in the southern US and some time in Central America and I cannot imagine a winter in Montana or Wyoming with out a lot of firewood (or a big tank of propane).  Just wondered if I was missing something that was obvious to you mountain state people. Thanks, – Alan W.

JWR Replies:  One of the greatest self-sufficiency advantages of living inside the American Redoubt is that the majority of the populace cuts their own firewood. This means that unlike some other northern regions (such as the northern Plains) when the Schumer hits the fan, fuel for home heating will not be a critical resource, at least as long as a small quantity of gas for chain saws holds out. If someone doesn’t have a sufficient number or a suitable species of trees on their own property, then they will usually cut their firewood on nearby National Forest land. Home firewood cutting permits are very inexpensive. (Typically, $5 per cord, sold in a four cord increment, with a $20 permit.)

In the vicinity of the Rawles Ranch, most families heat their homes with Red Fir or Western Larch. Both of these trees make excellent firewood. The National Forests have long term renewable supplies of both–essentially unlimited, given the low population density in this region.

One other possibility for you in Wyoming is buying a property that has a surface coal seam. Such properties are surprisingly common, and they don’t sell at a huge premium over otherwise comparable properties that lack them. Just be sure that your purchase contract explicitly includes mineral rights! While it is not as hard as eastern anthracite coal, western coal burns fairly well. After quarrying, it should be stored in a shed to protect it from the rain.