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Last updated January 2013
Notice - Don't move firewood over long distances: Moving firewood long distances can transport dangerous invasive pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer or the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Do not move firewood more than 50 miles. Its best to buy it or cut it where you burn it. For more info: http://www.dontmovefirewood.org/.
The most obvious source of free firewood is on Craigslist. Lots of people take down trees and offer it to whoever is willing to cart it away. Sometimes its cut to wood stove lengths, usually its green, sometimes it disappears quickly, and it's almost always good to have a pick-up, if you are interested in quantity.
Local tree cutting services
A lesser known, but excellent way to get free firewood is by contacting local tree cutting services in your area and see if they ever have extra wood that they need to offload. This may be rare in northern New England, where wood is valued, but in my area in the mid-Atlantic, tree cutters often have to pay to dispose of their wood and they are more than happy to drop it off in your driveway. You will then need to split it, stack and dry it. Some companies have sign-up forms on their websites because they are actively looking for easy ways to dispose of wood from trees that your neighbor may be cutting, or that come down in a storm.
For more ideas how to get free fuel wood, check out these sites:
Federal and State Cut-Your-Own Firewood Programs
While not free, National Forests and many state forests, allow you to cut your own wood for as little as $10 per cord. You’ll need a chain saw, a pick-up truck or rental trailer If you would like to use a woodstove to heat your home and do not have access to your own source of wood, it may be worthwhile to look into programs in your area which allow cutting on public lands. In 1982 the Forest Service issued 655,000 permits to cut firewood on national forest land. Managers estimate that 2.8 million cords were cut. This shows an extraordinary demand for firewood that is still little understood or appreciated. The Alliance is trying to obtain more recent figures to show current usage from national forests.
Every National Forest Ranger District has a firewood policy. They often issue permits to cut wood under certain conditions and in certain areas. To find your closest National Forest, check Maps and Links to National Forests and Parks By State . The cost is usually between $10-20 per cord, with a cord purchase minimum. You must provide your own chainsaw and have a tractor or truck to transport the wood you cut.
Several states in New England have statewide firewood programs, so state forests do not each require their own program. In Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, cutting is available on public land with a different permit than those used by the National Forest programs. We’ve compiled information about programs in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont but many other states probably have cut-your-own programs.
The Division of Forestry assigns firewood permits by lottery. Live trees and wood on the ground is sold in 2-cord lots at a cost of $30.00 per cord. Applications must submit their application for the lottery on February 1. Applicants who do not receive a permit by lottery selection will be placed on an alternate list and may be offered permits based on supply. For more information see this website.
The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands offers firewood permits to individuals with a chain saw and pickup truck. Foresters mark suitable firewood trees near roads, for easier hauling and minimal disruption deeper into the forest. Firewood is sold for $30 per cord, with a 5-10 cord maximum for any one permit holder each year (this varies by region).
Call the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands at 207-941-4412 for more information.
The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry allows firewood cutting for personal use in 5 participating state parks and forests. The wood is sold for $20 per cord, up to a maximum of five cords during the cutting season. Permit holders can cut and remove their firewood from standing timber in designated areas.
For a permit, call or visit one of the following areas for reservations:
| Northern New Jersey
High Point State Park
1480 State Highway 23
Sussex, NJ 07461-3605
Stokes State Forest
1 Coursen Road
Branchville, NJ 07826
| Southern New Jersey
Bass River State Forest
762 Stage Road
Tuckerton, NJ 08087
Belleplain State Forest
County Route 550
PO Box 450
Woodbine, NJ 08270
| Brendan T. Byrne State Forest
P.O. Box 215
Route 72 East, Milepost 1
New Lisbon, NJ 08064