How to be safe using tools in the woods

chain saw
This DNR employee displays proper chain saw cutting technique and is wearing approved personal protective clothing, including gloves; head, eye and ear protection; protective chaps; and sturdy footwear. Photo: DNR.

The warm summer weather is taking its time arriving in Washington state this year, but some people are already turning their thoughts to winter: gathering firewood, that is. If you plan on gathering your own firewood from publicly owned lands, you’ll need a permit — check this web page to find out where DNR firewood gathering permits are still available.

If you are using a chain saw to trim your firewood, here are some basic safety tips from the federal safety agency OSHA:

  • Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw’s chain path.
  • Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
  • Keep your hands on the saw’s handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment when operating the saw, including hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Be careful that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
  • Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut.
  • Make sure your chain saw is equipped with a protective device that minimizes chain saw kickback.

Other places to gather firewood     

Some of the federal lands in Washington that issue permits to gather firewood for personal use are:

DNR allows firewood cutting only when a timber harvest area has enough leftover down wood or slash to make it worthwhile for you to go all the way out there. Many sites may have this left-behind wood but not enough for people to harvest for firewood. Because DNR manages forested state trust lands for habitat as well as revenue production, a certain amount of the snags, downed wood and stumps left after a timber harvest must remain for birds, mammals and other critters.

State trust lands provide revenue to beneficiaries, including schools, state universities and counties; therefore, it is a violation of state law to cut down trees or take firewood from state trust lands without permission from DNR.

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