Personal Use Firewood Harvest

Personal Use firewood may not be sold or bartered for personal gain. Individuals may cut and remove up to 25 cords of dead wood per year.

Click here to download a map to help determine areas in which firewood can be harvested.

Cutting Guidelines:

  • Only dead trees (trees without green needles or dead hardwoods) or windthrown (down) trees may be cut.
  • Stumps are to be no higher than 12 inches above the ground level. Stumps less than 12 inches are preferred.
  • No branches or tops are to be left in the roadside ditches along the highways or forest road rights-of-way. All branches and tops should be taken at least 25 feet into the woods. Woody debris in ditches slows drainage and can cause erosion problems. Roadside woody debris is also a greater fire hazard. Please clean up after yourself! Many people will see the quality of work you do along the road.
  • If you use a winch or cable to pull logs from the woods, protect the green trees in the area. Dragging logs past live trees can damage the bark which weakens the tree’s defense against insects and disease. Do not block roads with vehicles, cables, or wood.
  • Do not drive off existing roadways for wood gathering, unless authorized by Forest Service permit.

Cutting of firewood is prohibited in these locations without a permit:

  • Within 150 yards of any developed recreation site (campground, trailhead, trail, along campground access roads, or other administrative sites).
  • Timber Sale Areas – These are generally well-marked with signs and tree paint and flagging. If you are unsure about Timber Sale boundaries or other legal boundaries, please contact either the Seward District Office (907-288-3178), or the Glacier District Office (907-783-3242).
  • Log Decks – All log decks require a permit to cut wood from. Please contact the offices listed above to inquire about availability and location of decks.

Cutting recently dead or windthrown green spruce:

If you cut recently dead or windthrown spruce, spruce bark beetles may be present in the bark. If you suspect beetles are present, try to burn all infested wood before the following spring. If wood is not burned, spruce bark beetle larvae (young beetles) in the firewood could mature and emerge as adults to attack trees near your home.

Above all, please remember to be safe in the woods!!

Know how to handle a chainsaw safely and wear protective equipment. Always watch out for the “other guy” when falling trees or when others are falling trees near you. Do not allow trees to fall on roads. Use proper lifting techniques to protect your back.

For additional information about firewood cutting or permits, contact the Seward District Office (907-288-3178) or the Glacier District Office (907-783-3242). Enjoy your National Forest!

Free Use Timber and Firewood Harvest

Seward/ Glacier Ranger District

Alaska residents wishing to remove Free Use wood products from the National Forest should thoroughly read and understand all of the information in this policy to ensure compliance with all Federal Regulations, and to understand their responsibilities to the land and its’ resources.

Currently, the Seward and Glacier Ranger Districts only allow the removal of dead material for free use timber. With the high mortality of spruce trees from the spruce bark beetle on the Kenai Peninsula, we feel that the remaining green trees are best served as a seed source for future forests.

Free Use timber may not be bartered or used as compensation for any goods or services, including but not limited to harvesting, hauling, or milling costs. In addition, Free Use wood may not be used in commercial business ventures, sold for profit, or exported from the State of Alaska.

Rule and Regulations

The following are the Code of Federal Regulations that give the Forest Service guidance on our policy:

36 CFR 223.5   Scope of free use granted to individuals.

  • (a) Free use may be granted to individuals for firewood for personal use, except that such use may be limited to bona fide settlers, miners, residents and prospectors living within or immediately adjacent to the National Forest when the available supply is insufficient to meet the total demand. Free use may be granted to such bona fide settlers, miners, residents and prospectors for minerals, for fencing, building, mining, prospecting and domestic purposes.

(Sec. 1, 30 Stat. 35, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 477, 551)

(b) Free use will be granted individuals primarily to aid in the protection and silvicultural improvement of the forests. Except in unusual cases, the material will be restricted to dead, insect-infested, or diseased timber, logging debris, and thinnings. Other material may be granted in unusual cases where its refusal would cause unwarranted hardship. Where limited supply or other conditions justify such action, the free use of green material may be refused.

The above CFR defines the scope of free use granted to individuals, including those in Alaska. It provides that free use of timber may be granted for firewood for personal use and that if supply is limited, free use can be restricted to settlers, residents, or miners of the State. This regulation also states that the purpose of free use is primarily to improve forest health. Most importantly, the regulation also provides that the authorized officer can deny free use of timber provided there is some justification for doing so. This regulation specifically speaks to circumstances that might warrant the denial of free use of green timber stating that “where limited supply or other conditions justify such action, the free use of green material may be refused”.

36 CFR 223.10   Free use to Alaskan settlers, miners, residents, and prospectors.

Bona fide settlers, miners, residents, and prospectors for minerals in Alaska may take free of charge green or dried timber from the National Forests in Alaska for personal use but not for sale. Permits will be required for green saw timber. Other material may be taken without permit. The amount of material granted to any one person in 1 year shall not exceed 10,000 board feet of saw timber and 25 cords of wood, or an equivalent volume in other forms. Persons obtaining materials shall, on demand, forward to the supervisor a statement of the quantity taken and the location from which it was removed.

36 CFR 223.10 provides direction on free use specifically for Alaska residents, miners, settlers, and prospectors by putting limits on the amount of free timber available (25 cords and 10,000 board feet per year) and stating conditions when a permit is required. Presumably, because of Alaska’s unique situation (more available timber and low population relative to the lower 48) the CFR’s provide maximum amounts of free use timber that can be removed from Alaska national forest lands. 36 CFR 223.10 does not create a special entitlement of Alaska residents to free use of timber, such that the authorized officer does not have discretion to deny the request for such use.

Guidelines for selecting trees for Free Use timber

While the following will not guarantee all trees will be approved, they are the general guidelines to follow when selecting Free Use trees.

Trees must be:

  • Greater than 150 yards from any developed recreation site (campground, trailhead, trail, along campground access roads, or other administrative sites.
  • Outside of Timber Sale Areas.
  • Greater than 330 horizontal feet from all identified eagles nests.
  • Greater than 120 horizontal feet from all identified fish bearing streams.
  • Outside of any identified cultural resource sites.

Anyone interested in harvesting free use must first fill out a short application and obtain approval for the trees to be harvested. Please contact the Seward District Office (907-288-3178) or the Girdwood District Office (907-783-3242) for more information.