From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published November 29, 2012 10:52 AM

Cutting Christmas Trees in a National Forest - be sure you get a permit first!

What could be better than cutting your own fresh Christmas tree in a National Forest? Why does the government allow this? There are actually good forest management reasons to thin trees in some circumstances, so cutting a tree actually helps the Forest Service manage the forests. Be aware that to cut a tree in a National Forest requires a permit, and the NFS encourages safe practices.

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"Trees from your national forests brighten homes across the country every year," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We encourage people to be aware of changing weather conditions, dress accordingly and always follow safe cutting practices when looking for that perfect tree this holiday season."

Each year, local Forest Service offices sell permits that allow individuals to cut one fresh tree on national forest lands. Fees for the permits vary dependent on location. The permit program helps the agency thin stands that have a concentration of small diameter trees.

Reminders and tips for cutting your tree:

- Travel with a companion, and always tell another person when and where you plan to take a trip into a forest.
- Remember to take your tree-cutting permit and a map of the location.
- Think safety. Dress warmly and in layers. Check your weather forecast and be aware of changing weather conditions. Keep your gas tank full. Have tire chains, if necessary, and don’t forget to bring a rope and tarp to transport your tree home. Also do not forget emergency supplies, including water and food.
- Select a tree with a trunk that is six inches or less in diameter, and prepare to cut the tree no more than six inches above ground level.
- Put on eye protection and heavy duty work gloves.
- Decide in which direction you want the tree to fall. Make sure the direction you choose is clear of all obstacles, including power lines and vehicles.
- Use handsaws and shears; chainsaws are prohibited in national forests.
- Make the back cut by standing to the side and away from the trunk. Step away as soon as the tree begins to fall.

Couple looking for the perfect tree via Shutterstock.

Contact your local Forest Service office to learn how to obtain your permit and for additional tree-cutting guidelines.

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