Forest Products Permits

Christmas Tree Cutting

Graphic of a Christmas tree with the statement a family tradition that helps you bring home a story
Merry Christmas!

Looking for the perfect tree? Try the tree lot in your backyard...the Kootenai National Forest. Seasonally, you can obtain a permit for Christmas tree cutting from any office or on line at You can jump to a Kootenai permit directly using this link -  A permit is required for each tree cut and removed from National Forest land. Each household will be able to obtain up to 3 permits.

As part of the national Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) initiative, all fourth graders are eligible for one free Christmas tree permit.  For students to receive the free tree permit, they must print out an Every Kid Outdoors pass from follow the instructions on the website and print out the voucher.  Bring the voucher to a Forest Service office to claim the free tree permit.  The fourth grader and an adult must be present at the time of redemption. The on-line permit system does not work with EKO.

There are no special areas designated for cutting. However, you are asked to observe the following rules in cutting your tree:

  • Be sure you are on National Forest land. A landowner might get angry if you aren't.
  • Cut your tree at least 200 feet away from main roads, campgrounds, and other recreation sites. These are closed to all tree cutting.
  • Select your tree from thickets or crowded areas. Do not remove trees from thinned plantations or other sparsely stocked areas. Please leave the isolated or single trees growing alone.
  • Cut only one tree for each permit and attach the tag to the tree before you put the tree in your vehicle.
  • Help us maintain roads by removing all discarded limbs and sections of the tree from roads and ditches.
  • Please do not cut a large tree (over 12 feet high) just to get the top.
  • Cut the stem off below the lowest live limb or within 8 inches of the ground, whichever is lowest.

On back roads, you are encouraged to cut trees which are growing within the road prism (from the top of the cut bank to the bottom of the fill slope) of little used roads. This helps to keep roads open and safe for travel.

Be prepared for cold weather and snow. The National Forest is mountainous terrain and almost always has snow on the ground in December. Drive safely!

Firewood Cutting

Your Firewood Permit

[Graphic]: Wood Cutting Icon

To cut firewood for personal use on National Forest and BLM lands in Montana and Idaho, you must have a Personal Use Firewood Permit.  At $5.00 per cord, you can purchase a permit for no less than 4 cords ($20) and no more than 12 ($60). A permit is good for gathering firewood from the time of purchase through March 31.  Permits are available at all Forest Service and BLM offices.

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.  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.

Where Can I Cut?

[Graphic]:  Sign Graphic Stating - Entering Firewood Cutting Area.

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.

What Can I Cut?

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.

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 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

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. Hauling firewood in lengths greater than 6 feet must be approved first in writing at a Forest Service office.

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:

  • 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.