Got Wood?

Got Wood?

There’s got to be a way to get that cut wood off the sides of the roads and trails. How about allowing locals to collect it for winter firewood?

If there is one thing most state and national parks has a lot of is fallen wood! Devil’s Lake is no exception. Of course, when your maintenance crew is well, let’s say “understaffed”, the best you can do with a fallen tree on a road or trail is cut it and push it to the side with the hope of dealing with it later. Often, “later” never comes.

Fallen Tree on South Shore Road

Fallen Tree on South Shore Road

At many Wisconsin State Parks, the solution is the Friends group. Being perpetually in need of funds, many Friends groups collect the wood, chop it up and sell it as firewood to the campers. Great solution! In fact, this was once the case at Devil’s Lake State Park as well. Well, for some time now the firewood at Devil’s Lake has come from a vendor and the Friends group doesn’t collect it. So now what?

Here’s the thing, all that wood along the sides of the trails & road looks pretty janky. What’s more, it could be seen as a fire hazard as well. I had one person ask me if critters such as rodents, snakes, and ticks are more of a problem around those brush piles. (Which got me thinking more about this issue…) Well, I don’t know the answer to that for sure. I do know that in general wood piles are great homes for wildlife. Suffice to say we probably don’t want them living right along the roads or trails though…

So anyway, here’s my thought. If it’s impossible for the park staff to get to these wood piles, why not allow area residents who burn wood in the winter to sign up to collect these unwanted log and brush piles in the park? For free.

Brush Pile

Brush Pile

Here’s what I’d do, I’d have locals get on a list. Then when a big tree goes down the maintenance person quickly clears it as usual. Then at the end of the day, they send out an email to the person at the top of the list and say “It’s your tree” you’ve got a week to get it. Then give them access. If they can’t get it, go to the next person on the list. When the next tree or multiple trees go down, again, call the locals.

You see, in the end, the park is simply trading wood for a service, “wood removal”. Call it a community outreach program.

The bottom line is that fallen wood shouldn’t stack up along the trails or roads and there is no reason to waste it either. If no one within the park wants the wood or needs the cash, then it’s better to let someone use it for fuel than to let stack up. Just my nickel.

Update: Per WL NR 45.046. People wanting to collect wood can apply for a permit, however, there are restrictions in that wood “Cannot be cut near roads, trails or lakes or within designated recreation areas”, this would have to change or be modified according to my reading.


DISCLAIMER: OH, and of course, if you haven’t realized by now, this website is not the “official” park website. This crazy idea about the wood is mine alone and doesn’t represent the opinion of the park or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. But you know that. 🙂 



  1. Greg Sacra

    DLSP staff once told me that it was ok to remove wood that was “down and dead.” You may want to check back with them about their policy.

  2. MaryMac

    I remember back in the 1990’s, there was a program developed for ‘low income’ folks who applied for ‘free wood’ could submit an application to get wood from Devil’s Lake State Park. I don’t know if that program included all State Parks. This program could have been sponsored by the City of Baraboo – I’m not sure.
    Derrick, I think you suggestion regarding a ‘Wood List’ is a great idea. Much like the ‘get a road kill deer’. I am sure there are other programs you can ‘borrow’ the process model from. There are families in need which could use wood.

    1. Author

      Thanks. Yeah, My hope is a few folks will talk to the “powers that be” and see if we can’t get something done. I personally know a few families in Baraboo that could really use that wood for winter heating. Sad to see it just rot on the trailside.

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