Depending on where you live, firewood permits can be a well kept secret. Not many people talk about them but in some states they do exhist.
Here's the problem....A lot of people have an interest in burning firewood and feel comfortable cutting it on their own, but don't have access to the trees.
Not everyone has land of their own or a buddy who gives you the green light to come over and cut down some trees.
One of the benefits to burning firewood is the money you save. Buying firewood from someone else can drastically reduce the money you save by burning firewood. So what do you do?
Depending on where you live, local government agencies who oversee public lands may issue wood cutting permits.
For example, the Department of Natural Resources or USDA Forest Service in the state of Michigan both issue firewood permits. The permits can be purchased from a local office and firewood can be harvested during specific times of the year.
Just because you have a permit doesn't mean you can just go out and cut firewood anywhere. Each agency or area of land will have its own rules and requirements. For example, can you cut dead standing trees or just trees that are already on the ground? Is this a closed area? Do you have a map?
Know your firewood measurements. Typically, if you have a permit you can take a specific amount of firewood which is measured by the cord, or a 4' wide x4' high x8' long stack totaling 128 cubic feet. You will need to document the amount of wood you have taken from the land and have that documentation available upon request.
Be prepared to get some exercise! It's public land so you can't just drive through the woods to park next to the wood you cut up. It's not uncommon to carry the wood a little ways so bring a firewood cart to help you out.
Generally, when firewood season (that's what we call it) opens up around my house people are quick to react. Everyone wants to be the first one to get the firewood that's close to the road....the easy stuff.
So don't wait too long before you begin your quest for state or federal land firewood. The easy stuff might be gone before you know it. Or, constantly keep an eye out for nice firewood during your daily travels. You never know when a strong storm will create some new blow downs for you to cut up.
If you decide to purchase a permit to use on a piece of public land please take the time to educate yourself about the rules and requirements. Call or stop into your local government office and ask them about the laws specific to your state.
If done properly and by the rules, firewood permits can offer a great source of firewood to heat your home at a very affordable price.