Need Firewood to Heat Your Home Here is How to Get it Free

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Michigan DNR, Lansing, MI — March 1, 2021

For the second year in a row, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will offer free permits to cut fuelwood from dead and downed trees in approved areas of Michigan’s state forests.

This year, fuelwood season begins today, March 1 – earlier than in previous years to help people who might be facing economic hardship during the heating season due to COVID-19.

“We are trying to make the permit process as simple and effective as possible,” said Jeff Stampfly, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.

Photo Credit / Michigan DNR

Like last year, residents need to use an online permit which can be found at Michigan.gov/Fuelwood. First, use the Fuelwood Map button to locate the township and range where you would like to collect. Then, use the Fuelwood Permit button to bring up a fillable pdf. Complete the form, enter the township and range of the map that you will be using (for example, T22N, R09W), and then print, sign and carry it with you when you go to cut wood.

Please note that permits are for use on designated state forest land in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. The quality and quantity of deadwood varies by location. DNR staffers suggest you visit the site where you plan to cut before applying for a permit. Some sites still may be inaccessible due to snow in March, so check the area where you plan to cut to make sure you can reach it before filling out the permit form.

Fuelwood permits allow for the collection of up to five standard cords of wood per household. Wood is for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded. Wood must be dead and down within 200 feet of a road. No off-road use of vehicles is permitted to gather wood.

Permits are good for 90 days after they are issued; all permits expire December 31, 2021 regardless of the issue date.

For local residents, the closest collection points are in the Midland area. Check out the frequently asked questions for additional information.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Fuelwood Permits

  • Do I have to have the permit with me when collecting wood?
     Yes. Also, permits are only valid on state forest land within the permitted area. See #3 on Page 2 of the permit.
  • The permit is in my name but can I have someone else cut my wood for me?
     Yes. However, YOU (the permittee) must be on-site when cutting and in the vehicle when transporting the wood. See #3 on Page 2 of the permit.
  • Can I get more than one 90-day permit a year?
     No. Permits are restricted to one 90-day permit per household per year. However, you still have the option to visit the U.S. Forest Service and obtain a permit to collect fuelwood on federal forest land. Contact information is available on our website at
    www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.
  • What if I don’t get around to collecting all 5 cords of wood before the permit expires – can I get an extension?
     No. Cutting should start when permit is purchased. No extensions or refunds will be given.
  • What if I don’t know how much a standard cord is?
     Dimensions for a standard cord of wood (4’x4’x8’) are located at the bottom of Page 1 of the permit.
  • I know a couple of timber sales where I’m sure the logger has finished. Can I collect wood there?
     No. Wood may not be removed from timber sale areas until that timber sale area is included on a permit map. See #8 on Page 2 of the permit. If you have not purchased a permit for the current calendar year and the timber sale contract is officially closed,
    you may be able to purchase a Specific Area Permit for that area. Contact your local DNR office for additional information.
  • Can I drive off a road to collect wood?
     No. You must remain on established roads. No off-road use of vehicles is permitted; this includes ATV’s, ORV’s, etc. See #4d on Page 2 of the permit.
  • Can I take a wheelbarrow off-road to collect wood?
     Yes, you may use a wheelbarrow or handcart off-road. See #4f on Page 2 of the permit.
  • Can I cut live trees or trees that are standing but dead?
     No. Remove only dead and down material from areas shown on the map provided. No standing trees, alive or dead, may be cut under a General Area Permit. See #9 on Page 2 of the permit.
  • Why am I restricted to cutting in only certain areas of some counties?
     To ensure permit compliance and improve the sustainability of state forest land and wildlife habitat, forest managers may restrict cutting to countywide, township, section, or specific areas within their geographical areas. It is important that you only cut
    fuelwood in the area specified by your permit.
  • Why am I restricted to cutting within 200 feet of an existing road?
     The retention of some residual trees, standing snags, and downed woody debris throughout harvested stands provides habitat for some wildlife species. Decomposing woody debris is also a source of organic matter which helps soil productivity.
  • Can I sell any of the fuelwood that I collect from this permit?
     No. Firewood removed under this permit is for personal use only and is not to be sold or traded.
  • Can I get maps online?
     Yes. Visit our webpage at www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.
  • When do I have to fill out the Collection Log and what happens if I forget to fill it out?
     The Collection Log must be filled out prior to transporting fuelwood collected under the permit. If you are contacted by a conservation officer and the log is not completed, you may be considered in violation of the terms of the permit and may receive a citation. See Personal Use Fuelwood Permit Requirements on Page 2 of the permit.