Harvesting on state forest lands

DNR forester and landowner walking in landowner's woodlands

Minnesota state forests are open for all to enjoy. With 4.2 million acres to explore, there is plenty of opportunity to safely, sustainably and legally forage wild edibles and harvest forest products. There are some rules to keep in mind about what, how, and where you can collect.

No permit needed to collect:

  • small amounts of berries, mushrooms, or cones from a state forest, Wildlife Management Area or Aquatic Management Area for personal use, such as the amount you or your household may consume within the week.
  • dead fuelwood for fires while recreating in a state forest.
  • antler sheds.

You need a permit to do the following in state forests:

How to get a foraging or harvesting state forest permit

To get your permit, visit the DNR Forestry office closest to the state forest where you want to harvest. It is important that the local forestry office approves where you want to forage or harvest to ensure your safety, along with sustainability of the resource. Active timber sales, hunting seasons, road projects, potential for over harvesting in an area, impact to the surrounding forest, and other activities need to be considered before a permit can be issued.

The minimum permit fee is $25. The permit fee varies depending on the species and volume desired.

What you’ll need to know or have when you apply for a permit:

  • The specific location where you want to harvest.
  • Payment via check or money order. Cash and credit cards are not accepted.
  • Valid identification, along with the legal names of anyone else in your household who wants to harvest on the same permit.
  • Estimated harvest volume
  • How long you want you want to harvest the species or item. Permits can be written for up to one year depending on plant or tree species.

If you wish to harvest materials or specimens from a state forest for scientific research purposes, please submit a research application so that we may direct you to the appropriate permits for your work.

For more information, contact your local DNR Forestry office. You cannot acquire a permit from the downtown St. Paul DNR headquarters.

Harvest Christmas trees, decorative tops, or boughs in state forests.

  • Make sure you call ahead and inquire about the process with the local DNR Forestry office.
  • You must know the location where you want to cut a tree before getting a permit.
  • It may take a few days to process your permit. Please plan accordingly.
  • DNR offices are closed on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, plus weekends.
  • Payment by check or money order is accepted. No credit cards. No cash.
  • Wild, naturally-grown Christmas trees might be a bit spindly or sparse. They are not groomed or shaped—like the trees you can buy at a tree farm or lot.
  • State forests from Hinckley to Aitkin and further north have balsam fir or white spruce, which are often desired for Christmas trees. Sand Dunes and Rum River state forests, while close to the Twin Cities, do not have suitable Christmas trees.

Other options for Minnesota grown trees:

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