Powder River Examiner -

Free Personal Use Firewood Gathering Continues in 2020, Permit Now Necessary


Bozeman, MT – June 1, 2020

Personal use firewood cutting across the Custer Gallatin National Forest and National Forests and Grasslands throughout Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and portions of South Dakota will continue for free for the remainder of 2020, but starting June 1 the agency is asking that the public first call to obtain a hard-copy permit in order to track harvesting and communicate important wildfire safety and collection information.

“As the impacts from COVID-19 continue to be felt across the country, we remain committed to providing services on our public lands and doing what we can to help those in need,” said Regional Forester Leanne Marten.

Those interested in collecting firewood and other forest products and botanicals need to first contact their local unit by phone and provide their contact details, and a free, hard-copy permit will be issued by mail. In-person pickup at a local station may also be available, depending upon location, and will comply with the Center for Disease Control’s requirements for social distancing. The permit will be valid between June 1 and December 30, 2020.

Woodcutters can take up to 12 cords of firewood for personal use. A cord is defined as tightly piled wood in a stack four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long.

Personal use firewood cutting allows you to remove downed timber or to cut standing dead trees under most conditions on National Forests and Grasslands, within Montana, Northern Idaho, North Dakota and portions South Dakota.

Forest officials request that woodcutters also follow these requirements:

- Do not fell green (live) trees for firewood. Do not cut cedar or Pacific yew.

- Do not cut standing dead trees or down logs with signs, tags or paint marks on them.

- Firewood gathering is prohibited in all developed recreation areas, campgrounds and wild and scenic river corridors.

- Firewood gathering is prohibited within timber sale units or other areas signed as being closed to firewood gathering.

- Trees or logs must NOT be felled or skidded across live streams, lakes, or reservoirs. If a tree is accidentally felled into a waterway, leave the entire tree. Firewood gathering is prohibited within 150 feet of any running stream, pond, lake, marshy, or wet area

The following activities are prohibited: using over-the-terrain vehicles for skidding, yarding or skidding systems in excess of 100 feet, log trucks for hauling, or vehicles driven off roadways to gather firewood.

Firewood needs to be cut to six feet (max) or less, to be removed under the firewood program.

The following are fire regulations for vehicles and chainsaws (during proclaimed fire season):

- Chainsaw operators must have a serviceable fire extinguisher (liquid chemical 8 oz. or dry chemical 1 lb.) and shovel available at all times.

- Chainsaws must be equipped with an approved spark arrester screen.

- All vehicles must be equipped with a baffled muffler and serviceable tailpipe.

Firewood obtained is intended for personal use only. Inquire by phone or email with your local District offices regarding commercial firewood permits.

Pile or lop and scatter slash away from roads, power lines, telephone lines, ditches and stream courses.

Please note, all woodcutters should also use caution while driving on Forest Service roads. Roads at lower elevations may be wet and muddy and the soft roadbed can easily be damaged by vehicle traffic. Following strict wildfire safety practices outlined in the permit is also required. Know your local conditions, download an Motor Vehicle Use Map for your area and check with the Ashland Ranger District for more info: 406-784-2344.


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