Transplant Permits


Green plant in a pile of dirt. Photo by US Forest Service.

Permits are available to dig young trees, ferns and shrubs from the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests for transplant to your yard or property. Permits can be obtained in person at any of our ranger district offices. Commonly harvested species include Vine Maple, Sword Fern, Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar, Alder, and Western Hemlock. Species that are excluded and not available are the Mountain Hemlock, (Tsuga mertensiana) and the Yellow Cedar, (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis).

Deliberate or incidental transplant of any USFWS threatened, endangered, or candidate species or any USFS Region 6 sensitive species is PROHIBITED.  Knowledge of these species is the permittee’s responsibility.


Free Use Permit Required

Free Use permits allow you to gather up to 5 plants less than 2 feet tall for personal use, per household per year. Harvest within 50 feet of the edge of the road. Obtain a permit issued by the Forest Service at your local Ranger District office.


Charge Use Permit Required

For amounts over (5) plants per household per year, permits cost $5 per tree 2 feet tall or less and $2 per fern or small shrub. Transplants must be dug within 50 feet of a Forest Service road on the district which issued the permit. The minimum charge for a permit is $20.00. View the Special Forest Products Summary Table for more information.

Rules & Regulations

Motorized equipment such is not allowed for digging transplants. Only hand tools can be used. Permittee must backfill holes created by digging transplants.


Printable Transplant Fact Sheet


Tips for Planting Success

These suggestions will improve your transplant success rate tremendously!

  • Dig hole at least twice as wide as the root ball, loosen the soil inside the hole. This allows for horizontal spreading of the root system.
  • Place the tree gently in the hole, start refilling with topsoil, water with a premixed root stimulant or fertilizer as recommended by a local nursery.
  • Fill in remainder of the hole, making sure no roots are near the surface of the ground, or the tree is planted too low in the hole. Tamp soil as you fill in to the ground level.
  • Tree wells: The easiest way to water your new tree, provide good saturation, and prevent runoff, is to create a water well. This is simply mounding soil in a circle around the base of the tree, about one third larger than the root ball. This forms a barrier that prevents water from draining away before it is absorbed into the soil.
  • Stake the tree, this provides support for the tree until the roots become established. Proper staking includes placing two poles outside the root ball in undisturbed soil on either side of the tree. Make sure one pole is standing in the direction of the prevailing wind path. The height of the poles should be no more than two-thirds the height of the tree. Use a flexible material for the tie. Old pieces of garden hose or carpet work well for protecting the tree where the rope comes in contact with the bark. Never tie the stake directly to the tree as this will cause deformation in the development of both the bark and trunk. Don't leave the tree staked longer than necessary, most trees can stand on their own after the first year.
  • Protect from heat shock the first day with a steady slow stream of water.
  • Water once a week, water in winter also if snow pack is poor. Keep foot traffic to a minimum to avoid soil compaction.


Do Your Part

If you pack it in, pack it out. Please remove all trash!

  • Do your part and respect the Forest by leaving it clean and free of trash.  For more information on how you can help, read the following information about practicing Leave No Trace principles
  • Follow all permit conditions.
  • Follow general rules and regulations for use of National Forest Systems lands, which are available at Ranger District offices.
  • Proper gathering techniques of Special Forest Products to ensure future availability.
  • It is ILLEGAL to harvest rare, threatened, or endangered plants.