Gathering Firewood in North Idaho
Having grown up in North Idaho and returned late in life, I can tell you one of the great pleasures I enjoy is gathering a winter’s supply of firewood for use in our fireplace in the evening or on a cold morning. Gathering wood is a chore to some, but to me it’s another North Idaho experience. With the great abundance of public land timber in the Panhandle, here are some things you need to know.
Wood Cutting in North Idaho
Owning your own wood lot or having permission to access private land for fire wood is the best way to ensure that you’ll have plenty of wood for winter. Depending on the type of stove or fire place and the efficiency of the system you use, the amount of wood you harvest for this purpose can vary considerably.
Generally speaking, the average home uses between two and 5 cords of wood per winter season. A cord is a measure of wood 4 feet by 8 feet by 4ft. One good tree can easily yield one to two cords. Species preferences cover a range. Dry Birch and Tamarack are highly prized, but Birch harvest is regulated in some areas. Douglas Fir is also a highly desirable selection. But White Fir (also Grand Fir), Bull Pine, White Pine and Mountain Alder are quality choices for firewood.
Accept on private ground, the use of Cedar is restricted due to it’s high market value.
Because we have so much public land, permits are required to help the State and National Forest managers monitor wood cutting harvest. Due to dry seasons and the consequent risk of forest fire, restrictions are placed on times allotted for cutting wood, so you’ll want to check that out with the ranger district from which you intend to harvest.
Idaho’s state forests are managed by the Idaho Department of Lands. Their regulations differ, so you want to check out both and use maps for locating your wood supply.
Always check road conditions as well as fire conditions before looking for wood. Here’s a list of phone numbers for the National Forest Ranger Districts for North Idaho:
Idaho Panhandle National Forests Headquarters
3815 Schreiber Way
Coeur d’Alene, ID
Priest Lake Ranger District
Bonners Ferry Ranger District
Sandpoint Ranger District
Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District
Silver Valley Office
St. Joe Ranger District
St. Maries Office
Coeur d’Alene Wildland Fire Center
Coeur d’Alene Nursery