If you've been feeling the cold bite of winter weather here in Tri-Cities, you're not alone. As snow threatens its first landfall here in the Columbia Basin, a lot of people are getting their fireplaces ready to keep the home toasty warm.

Unfortunately, that also means that firewood prices are skyrocketing. In just over a week, I've seen a single bundle go from $3.50 each to $7.50 each! That's a huge jump in price, and it's likely to only get higher as the weather gets colder.

A person in a t-shirt, jeans, and gloves, loading firewood from a wheelbarrow onto a larger stack in a shed.
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Is it too late to stock up on wood for the winter?

While you may be looking at your wallet right now and wondering if you can spare cash for firewood after all the presents and parties you have planned for December, it's not too late to find affordable firewood. Hitting the local grocery store or convenience store is easy, but it's expensive and not sustainable for long-term heating needs.

One of my neighbors always has a large pile of wood stocked up on their patio, and I've been seeing them bring even more home in the back of their mini-van. That had me thinking: where can we get cheap wood here in Tri-Cities?

A person in a pink shirt and capri jeans, dragging a dead leafy tree in front of an iron gate in a yard.
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Free wood may be in your own backyard

It's probably obvious, but the cheapest wood is going to be free and on your property. Before you grab an axe though, it's important to be aware of Washington State law regarding the removal of wood.

Legal Beagle advises that you must be careful about boundary lines when it comes to trees on your property, especially if they cross into your neighbor's yard (or are rooted in your neighbor's yard). You can also be liable if any part of a tree you cuts down falls in your neighbor's property and causes damage or spreads disease.

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Homeowners associations also frown upon tree removal. However, if you own your own property in Washington, and are not bound by other legal contracts such as HOAs, you do have the right to cut down trees on your property. Your trees at home may not provide very good quality firewood, however, but it will do when you need to pinch pennies and don't mind getting rid of some trees on your property in the process.

A person swinging an axe in a wooded area.
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Cheap wood is available to chop yourself on DNR lands.

You might be surprised, but the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does allow the public to cut down their own firewood on state lands - with restrictions, of course. Per the DNR:

We provide limited opportunities for the public to cut firewood in approved areas on state trust lands when suitable downed wood is left at timber harvest sites. Purchasers of trust lands timber sales are using more and more of the branches left after trees are harvested, so please understand that there are fewer opportunities for personal firewood collection.

The DNR website goes into further detail on how to obtain a firewood permit for the specific managed region (Southeast for locations near Tri-Cities). Dates are restricted in each region, with most ending in early December and some unavailable during the fire season of late summer.

While it is free to chop down wood if you have this permit, please note that it will still cost you the fuel you take to drive to a collection site and back home. You will also need a Discover Pass.

Chopping down wood or plants in any state owned region besides these designated areas is forbidden. Removing native plants, such as rhododendron, evergreen, huckleberry, or native dogwood, in these areas without express permission is considered a misdemeanor under RCW 47.40.080.

A person's hand holding a mobile phone, on which is a close up picture of firewood.
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Find cheap firewood online

One of the best ways to find cheap firewood that you don't have to chop down yourself - although you will probably still need to pick and haul it - is to look online at local marketplaces.

Craigslist is one of the most reliable places to look for firewood in Tri-Cities. Most sellers disclose the type of wood they are selling, and offer full cords (128 cubic feet) for very reasonable prices. Some will also deliver the wood to your address.

Another popular place to look for firewood is Facebook Marketplace. This is similar to Craigslist as a sort of local want-ad/for-sale feature, so that you can search locally for wood that can either be delivered to you or that you can drive to without spending a lot on gas.

You may also find cheaper wood in smaller quantities from private sellers who have recently completed a landscaping project and are just offering the wood product created to anyone who wants it. If you drive around, you might even find stacks of firewood advertised for cheap or free along the road.

A person in a plaid shirt holding two bagged bundles of firewood inside a grocery store.
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When all else fails, hit the store for firewood.

Retailers are always trying to keep firewood stocked during cold weather. You will need to be choosy and shop around to find the best deal on firewood. Besides grocery stores, you can find firewood at Tractor Supply Co., Wilco Farm Store, The Home Depot, and Griggs Department Store.

Finally, remember to practice fireplace safety!

The Washington State Fire Marshal urges everyone to stay safe when using their fireplace. This includes keeping anything flammable at least 3 feet from your fireplace, putting out fires before you leave your home or go to sleep, keeping your fireplace cleaned, and more. See more tips below.

Important: 12 Tips To Stay Safe Using Your Fireplace and Chimney

There's nothing quite like a lit fireplace: the warmth, light, smell, and sound of crackling wood transcends time and takes us back to a simpler time. It's the spirit of hygge. But lighting a fire in your home comes with a lot of dangers. Before you light your fireplace, review these safety tips from the Washington State Fire Marshal.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

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Gallery Credit: AJ Brewster

 

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