Forest Products Permits

Pine cone with pine bough.

A forest produces a variety of products which people can harvest, collect, and use for a variety of things. Depending on the forest product, and its use - gathering these items may require a permit.  The Eastern Region has an abundance of forest products ranging from balsam boughs to edible mushrooms to ferns. Each forest in the region carefully manages its natural resources - so the permitting process and costs associated with the permits may vary from forest to forest. Below you can find information about some of our most popular forest products: 

Firewood Permits 

  • Firewood is generally sold in "chords" and most forests require a four chord minimum (1 chord = 4'x4'x8').
  • Live trees cannot be cut for firewood unless approved in writing by a District Ranger. 
  • Firewood cutting is permitted along any developed road open to motor vehicle use (see local Motor Vehicle Use Maps) with some exceptions. Exceptions may include developed recreation areas such as campgrounds, and natural research areas. 
  • Firewood gathering cannot interfere with timber sale activities. 
  • Trees within 100 feet of beaver ponds, lakes, streams or rivers cannot be cut.
  • Generally, firewood can be gathered without a permit for persons camping at a developed recreation site. The firewood cannot exceed what is needed at the site.

Finally, permits for firewood can be obtained by visiting a forest supervisor's office or a ranger district nearest you. Please be sure to know the rules and regulations on the forest you wish to gather firewood on before you go. 

Christmas Trees

Many people love the tradition of heading out to a forest to find their perfect Christmas tree each year. In the Eastern Region, you can find a variety of tree species fit for your family room - such as the fragrant frasier fir, or the very popular balsam fir.  For more information about Christmas trees on national forests - click HERE

Balsam Boughs

Balsam boughs are a very popular product for crafters around the region. Balsam boughs make excellent wreaths for your front door! Small amounts of boughs can be collected for personal use with a permit that is generally free - but commercial permits are needed for larger amounts or commercial use. Permits for harvesting Balsam boughs are generally available at your local office in the early fall. 


Mineral/rock collecting for personal use is allowed on most national forest lands. This collecting may be done without a permit provided the items collected is for personal/noncommercial/hobby use only. For other, larger scale uses of rock material - you must contact your local forest for information regardng permitting. 

  • Rock collection is limited to the collection of small amounts of widespread, low-value, relatively common minerals and stones for personal use. Examples of common minerals and stone: quartz, obsidian, and agate. 
  • Hobby gold panning or use of a metal detector to search for gold nuggets is also acceptable on most forests. 
  • Non-permitted, personal use mineral collection cannot involved digging of any kind.
  • Vertebre fossils (animals with a backbone), archeological resources, and artifacts such as pottery cannot be removed from any national forest. 
  • See local forest offices for more information on hobby mineral collecting, and the limitations each forest has. 

Plants & Edible Materials

Plant and root collection on national forests vary forest to forest. Most often, plant and root collection is free for personal use. Plant and root collection must follow all laws pertaining to sensitive and endangered species and may not be collected in certain areas of each forest. Please contact your local forest office for more information regarding plant and edible material removal.