Gathering Firewood

YOUR FIREWOOD PERMIT

To cut firewood for personal use on National Forest lands in Idaho, you must have a Personal Use Firewood Permit. At $5.00 per cord, you can purchase a permit for no less than four cords ($20) and no more than twelve ($60). A permit is good for gathering firewood from the time of purchase through March 31. You are only allowed to haul firewood up to 6 feet in length.  Anything longer must be approved in writing by the Forest Service.  Permits are available at Forest Service offices.

If you plan on cutting firewood on our Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District or our St. Joe Ranger District, you may purchase a wood permit by mail. Please select the Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District or the St. Joe Ranger District to download the appropriate mail-in permit.

On the Priest Lake Ranger District, permits are also available at Ace Hardware in Priest River.To cut firewood for commercial resale, you must obtain a Forest Products Sale Permit (known as a Green Slip) from a ranger station.

Keep your permit on the dashboard of your vehicle where it is visible through the windshield. Fill out the back portion of the permit at the cutting site before you haul each load. A Forest Service officer may check and verify your loads recorded on the back of your permit. 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 refunded

 

WHERE CAN I CUT?

Check with your nearest Forest Service office to find out if there are areas specifically designated for firewood cutting. Several districts have preferred firewood cutting areas. The Sandpoint Ranger district lists their preferred firewood cutting areas here. Maps are available at their office. 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. Look at 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.
 

WHAT CAN I CUT?

If you don't know the types of trees in the area, go to the Trees of North Idaho guide.Before you cut a tree, be sure it's dead. Check to see there are no green needles left. You can cut any dead standing or down tree for firewood with the following exceptions:

Larch: Be careful to avoid cutting live larch (tamarack) trees. These trees lose their needles each fall. Look on the ground to see if needles have recently fallen. Check to see if the bark inside is tight. If it is, the tree is probably alive. Go to the Trees of North Idaho guide for more information about larch.

Cedar: Do not cut standing or down dead cedar trees. Cedar is marketable timber for fences and shakes but is not suitable for firewood. Go to the Trees of North Idaho guide for more information about cedar.

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.
 

HELP PROTECT

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.
 

THE BEST FIREWOOD

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 valueindicates 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

 

MEASURING AND HAULING FIREWOOD

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. Six feet is the maximum length piece that may be removed under the firewood program without written approval.  Written approval will be site specific with beginning and ending dates and will be only for the district from where the firewood permit is issued.

CHAINSAW AND FIRE SAFETY

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: BEFORE YOU GO...

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