The Bitterroot National Forest is issuing 2014 personal firewood permits starting April 1, but that doesn't mean you can get to the cutting areas.

The permits allow a person to take up to 12 cords of firewood, and you must buy at least four $7 permits - $28 total. By the way, a cord of wood is a stack four feet wide by four feet tall by eight feet long.

The supplied load tickets must be stapled on all loads of firewood and a reminder - last year's permits are out-of-date and cannot be used.

Getting to the backcountry is a problem right now, though. Tod McKay, in a forest service news release, said that with 152 percent of average snowpack, many roads are still snowcovered at the higher elevations, and those at the lower elevations are melting during the day and freezing to glare ice at night. Many of the forest roads are soft and muddy, preventing easy travel. He compared the conditions to those of 1997.

Permits are available at any Bitterroot National Forest office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Make sure you know where the approved woodcutting areas are and carry a shovel and fire extinguisher. Your chain saw should have a spark arrester. No wood can be gathered within 150 feet of streams, creeks or waterways nor can you cut in developed recreation areas, campgrounds or in Wild and Scenic River Corridors.