Firewood Permit Information

The Bitterroot National Forest will continue to offer free firewood for personal use through December 31, 2022.  Forest officials are asking that the public call their local Forest Service office to obtain a hard copy permit in order to track harvesting and communicate important wildfire safety and collection information.  Quantities up to 12 cords are authorized with a free use permit.

Those interested in collecting firewood need to first contact the Bitterroot National Forest by phone and provide their contact details, and a free, hard-copy permit will be issued by mail. In-person pickup at Ranger District offices may also be available, depending upon location, and will comply with CDC requirements for social distancing. The permit will be valid through 2022.

Keep your permit on the dashboard of your vehicle where it is visible through the windshield.  Fill out the bottom portion of the permit at the cutting site before you haul each load. Tack your fuelwood ticket(s) to your load. Travel together when hauling wood in more than one vehicle for the same permit. To cut firewood for someone else (third party), authorization must be approved when purchasing the permit.  A lost or stolen permit cannot be replaced or the fee refunded.


Check with your nearest Forest Service office to find out if there are areas specifically designated for firewood cutting. If there are none, you can cut anywhere on the Forest with the following exceptions: 

Private Property: Privately owned lands within the National Forests are often marked by signs and fences. Refer to your Forest map to be sure you are not cutting on private land. 

Active Timber Sale: Timber sales are usually marked with a sign or painted trees. Please don't cut anything in these areas.


Only dead or down trees can be cut for firewood.  Before you cut a tree, be sure it is dead.  Check to see there are no green needles left.  You can cut any dead standing or down tree for firewood with the exception of cedar.  Cedar is marketable timber for fences and shakes but is not suitable for firewood. 

Larch: Be careful when cutting larch (tamarack) trees.  These trees lose their needles each fall, but are still alive.  Look on the ground to see if needles have recently fallen.  Check to see if the bark is tight.  If it is, the tree is probably alive.  

Wildlife trees: Standing and down dead trees (snags)provide a source of food, nests, perches, and protective cover for many birds and mammals in the forest.  Please don't cut trees with paint marks or signs, broken tops, trunk holes or visible nests.


Please help us protect water quality and fish habitat. Avoid cutting, piling, or gathering firewood near any stream, pond, lake, marshy or wet area. Check your wood cutting permit for guidance on specific distances.


Some trees burn hotter than others. The list below shows common types of trees in our area and their heat values in BTUs (British Thermal Units). A higher value indicates more heat. 

Tree BTU's
Western Larch (Tamarack) 22.3
Douglas Fir (Red Fir) 20.6
Lodgepole Pine 17.5
Ponderosa Pine (Yellow Pine) 17.1
Grand Fir (White Fir) 16.7
Spruce 15.0
Subalpine Fir 13.6


Firewood is commonly measured in cords. A standard cord is the amount of tightly piled wood in a stack 4 feet wide and 4 feet high by 8 feet long.  Hauling firewood in lengths greater than 6 feet must be approved first in writing at a Forest Service office.


As a chainsaw operator, you must have a serviceable fire extinguisher (8 oz. liquid chemical or 1 lb. dry chemical) and shovel available at all times. 

1. Your saw must be equipped with an approved spark arrestor. 

2. You can avoid starting a fire with your chainsaw by following these common sense rules:

  • Keep the saw well away from cigarettes or open flame when adjusting or fueling the saw.
  • Let your saw cool for at least 5 minutes before refueling.
  • Carry your gas in a metal safety can equipped with a spout. Use a funnel to avoid spilling gasoline on the ground.
  • Before starting your saw, move it from the place where it was fueled and away from gasoline vapors. Also, remove oil and sawdust from all metal parts.

3. You must carry a shovel and a bucket when traveling through or on National Forest lands during fire season. Contact your nearest Forest Service office for information concerning local fire danger and chainsaw use restrictions. 

4. Be aware of the dangers when cutting near or along roads.



Please leave your wood cutting area clean. Scatter debris away from roads, culverts and ditches. Pack your garbage out with you.