Gathering firewood: Do I need a permit for that?

Press Release

From National Forests in North Carolina, by Stevin Westcott:

ASHEVILLE, N.C., September 2014 — As temperatures begin to dip, many of us start thinking about heating our homes during the cold months. For some folks, this means stocking up on firewood for the fireplace or wood stove.

The national forests in North Carolina are among the places residents can go to obtain firewood for personal use. Each year, approximately 2,500 cords of wood are harvested from the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie, and Croatan National Forests.

“The collection of firewood is one of the many benefits that residents who live near the national forests enjoy,” said Dale Remington, timber sales forester with the National Forests in North Carolina.

Are you permitted to harvest trees?

If you have a permit, you can harvest dead and down trees in the National Forests in North Carolina. You can obtain a permit at your local ranger district office. If you collect a small amount of wood for a fire near a campsite, then you do not need a permit.

A permit costs $20.00 for approximately four cords of firewood. A permit holder may take a maximum of 8 cords (or two permits) of firewood in a calendar year.

There are certain areas where firewood may not be harvested such as:

Wilderness areas;
Active timber sale areas;
Scenic areas;
Experimental forests; and
Day-use areas.

Standing trees (live or dead) may not be cut down. That’s because standing dead trees must be left standing as they can provide important habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife such as the Indiana bat.

When you harvest and transport wood, remember to keep your firewood permit with you at all times. Firewood harvested from national forests is for personal use only and cannot be sold.

Safety First

If you have a permit to harvest firewood from one of the four national forests, review these helpful safety tips before heading into the woods.
Be mindful of your surroundings and road traffic.
Know how to use your chainsaw or hand saw before going into the forest.
Remember that fall is also hunting season, so wear blaze orange or another bright color.

Be mindful of “hazard trees.” Falling trees and branches are an ever-present hazard in the forest. This is why Forest Service employees wear hard hats in the forest. For a complete list of safety tips concerning hazard trees, visit:

Don’t Move Firewood

When camping in a national forest, remember to obtain firewood from the forest itself, from sources provided on the forest, or from a nearby vendor.
Don’t bring your own firewood to a national forest. The transportation of firewood can spread harmful, invasive insects including the emerald ash borer and diseases like laurel wilt. These threats can eliminate entire tree species and adversely affect the health of our national forests.

You can help prevent the spread of destructive bugs and diseases by following a few simple rules:

Leave firewood at home – do not transport it to campgrounds or parks.
Use firewood from local sources.
If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite.

For more information, visit:


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