Many people worry about the cost of fuelling a wood burning stove or other biofuel powered stoves including those that utilise pellets or fibres. However, there really is no need to be too concerned, especially once you begin locating and taking advantage of free firewood programs located throughout the USA. In addition, there are many resources online that every stove owner should be aware of as not only can they help you save money on heating your home, but they can also help you learn more about being a responsible stove user.
Before we continue, you should be aware of the importance of transporting wood with an awareness for the environment and conservation. Not only should you do research and ensure you are only sourcing your firewood from sustainable forests and trees, but you also need to consider invasive pest species. Why? Because transporting wood, logs and other wood waste can also transport dangerous pests including the Emerald Ash Borer as well the Asian Longhorned Beetle. To avoid this, it is recommend that you should not transport firewood more than 50 miles (in fact, it is illegal to not do this), it is also advised that you cut it where you will burn it to ensure the pests are destroyed before they get the chance to spread. Alternatively, you could buy the wood prepared and cut from the local supplier of your choice, although, bear in mind that convenience typically has a higher price.
Online Sources For Free Wood
Perhaps one of the most accessible ways to access free woods is online, from websites such as craigslist, Facebook and even twitter. You will often find people cutting down trees in their neighbourhood who would genuinely appreciate it being removed free of charge by someone who is going to put it to good use. Of course, you will need to have some mode of transportation and maybe a chainsaw, although you will find that many people cut them into stove suitable sizes perfect for burning.
National Forests Tree Cutting Permits
Although you will usually need to seek permission from the forest ranger or forest district office, many national forests issue permits allowing people to cut trees and wood in certain locations they deem appropriate. You will typically need to be issued with a Forest Service-issued permit and adhere to strict guidelines, however it is a very convenient way to gather free wood for your stove. Astonishingly, in 1982 the National Forests combined issued more than 600,000 permits to cut firewood, which just goes to show how the country still heavily relies on such an ancient resource.
Local Tree Cutting Services
You will easily find a range of tree cutting services in your area and as they cut down trees for a living they will often have an abundance of spare wood. You may discover that this is easier in some areas than others, for instance, in concord, where I am located wood is highly valued, although my sister in New Jersey often has an easy time getting free wood since tree cutters have to pay to dispose of their wood. As this has become increasingly popular, you will find that many companies have a form on their websites, where you can easily provide your contact details, giving you another easy backup option for locally sourced free wood.
State Cut-Your-Own Firewood Programs
You will also find that many states offer you the opportunity to cut your own wood from forests and woodlands. Although, this is not typically free of charge, it is incredibly cheap, with many states offering a chord of wood for as little as $10 to $20, and a minimum of one chord per trip. In addition, you will nearly always need to bring your own chainsaw and transport, so bear this in mind. The conditions and criteria varies from state to state, so always do your research. For example, Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, a permit to cut four cords of wood starts at $20. There are also a list of conditions including having to tag the wood you cut and where and when you can harvest wood. To locate your nearest National Forests and Parks by State check this Map.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers cut-your-own firewood permits for State Forest land in Chenango, Madison, and Broome counties. As mentioned above, they use a lottery to choose the locations you are permitted to harvest wood. They typically sell cords of wood for $15 per cord, with a minimum of three cords per sale. You will know which trees to harvest as the rangers will have tagged them. If you are interested, you can find out more by contacting the DEC in Sherburne for Chenango and Madison Counties at (607) 674-4017 or Kirkwood for Broome County at (607) 775-2545.
The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry allows firewood to be cut for your own use only. They allow this in 6 state wide forests and cords are sold at $20 per cord, with a cap of 6 cords per harvest season. You will be permitted to remove wood from trees picked out in specific locations and like many other states you will need to supply your own cutting materials and transport.
Although using wood as a fuel to heat your home is much cheaper than many other options including gas, electricity and oil, it can be expensive particularly at certain times of the year, or if you reside in an area of high demand. However, the good news is that there are many easy methods out their to source free wood and cheap wood easily in your own area. With a little research and due diligence you can save even more money on your heating bills.