The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry has been protecting, conserving, and enhancing our state’s forest resources for over 100 years. The Tennessee Division of Forestry extinguishes 1,000 fires that burn 20,000 acres each year and helps control the disease and insect pests that plague our forests. It provides professional, timely, up-to-date, science-based technical and financial assistance to family forest landowners, communities, non-government organizations, forest industry, and others with an interest in the conservation of Tennessee’s forests.
From October 15 through May 15 of each year, anyone starting an open-air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland, or woodland must by law secure a burning permit from the Division of Forestry. Permits are not required for burning in containers such as a metal barrel with a ½” mesh screen cover. Anyone needing to burn within an incorporated city should contact city authorities about any local burning ordinances. Many towns and cities have their own burning regulations that supersede the Division of Forestry’s burning permit program.
Once obtaining a burn permit, you are allowed to burn grass, woods, leaves, brush (natural vegetation) grown on that property.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provides additional guidelines on what can and cannot be burned at https://www.tn.gov/environment/program-areas/apc-air-pollution-control-home/apc/open-burning.html
Permits from the Division of Forestry are free of charge and may be obtained by filling out the online application at http://www.burnsafetn.org/burn_permit.html or by calling the Division of Forestry phone number for the county where the burning will be done.
Seedlings are grown at our East Tennessee Nursery in Delano, Tennessee. Tree seedling sales start July 1st for January through March pick up. There is a minimum order of 25 seedlings per species.
While there are no laws and regulations on timber cutting in Tennessee, there are voluntary guidelines that Master Loggers abide by to avoid water quality problems during harvesting operations. These Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) can be found at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/agriculture/documents/forestry/2023/Forestry-BMP-Guide.pdf
If water quality problems occur, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation can assume regulatory responsibility.
Contact a professional Consulting Forester for assistance. The online directory is a searchable database of local consulting foresters who help landowners achieve their goals in managing family woodlands.
Marketing Timber in Tennessee (UT Extension) https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB1790.pdf
The Division of Forestry and the Department of Agriculture offer competitive grant opportunities to Tennessee landowners. A comprehensive list can be found at https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/forests/landowners/financial.html
The Division also offers cost-share programs for forest industry. A comprehensive list can be found at https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/forests/landowners/financial/cost-share-for-forest-industry.html
Clearcutting is a forest regeneration technique that creates wide, open spaces with lots of sun exposure. This allows the most sunlight to reach tree seedlings that require full-sun conditions to thrive. Clearcutting also creates forest clearings that are habitat for various wildlife species.
Greenbelt plans are not written by the Division. You can find more information on the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s website at https://comptroller.tn.gov/boards/state-board-of-equalization/sboe-services/greenbelt0.html or contact a Consulting Forester.