The best friend on earth of man is the tree: when we use the tree respectfully and economically we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.
Up for a Little Adventure? Cut Your Own Christmas Tree!
There’s nothing quite like the smell of a fresh pine Christmas tree to make the holidays complete.
If you’re up for a little adventure this season, why not harvest your own tree from the local forest? Clark Griswold and Christmas Vacation notwithstanding, you’ll be creating some great family memories that are sure to last a lifetime.
First Things First
But before you head out with ax in hand, there are a few things you must do to prepare.
First and foremost, if you’ll be harvesting your tree from a national forest (as opposed to a tree farm), you must obtain a permit. These are available annually from November 1 through December 31.
Permits can be obtained in person at your U.S. Forest Service district office, 340 N. Cache Street in Jackson, or at the nearby Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, 532 N. Cache Street.
Christmas tree permits cost $10 each, and allow you to cut one tree. There is a limit of three permits per family, and the maximum height of a permitted tree is 12 feet. You must keep the permit with you at all times during your Christmas tree-cutting adventure.
A Few More Pointers:
• Always check weather conditions before heading out and dress appropriately! (Bring eye protection and work gloves.)
• Bring along emergency supplies, including water, food and a first-aid kit.
• Tell someone you know where you’re going and when you’ll return. (You may not get a cell phone signal in the forest.)
• Avoid areas along the sides of streams, rivers and lakes.
• Learn how to read a map and use a compass – and carry them both with you. (Your local U.S. Forest Service office can provide maps of several tree-cutting locations within the forest.)
• Bring a rope and tarp to transport your tree from the harvest area to your vehicle.
Time to Cut
Okay, you’ve obtained your permit, located the Christmas tree of your dreams, and measured it (to ensure it will fit in your vehicle and your home). Now it’s time to cut.
A lightweight handsaw or ax will usually do the trick. (You could also use a small chainsaw, but some purists consider that cheating.)
Here are a few guidelines for cutting your tree:
• Select a tree with a trunk diameter no larger than six inches.
• Cut the tree as close to the ground as possible, so the stump does not become a hazard to others. (The Forest Services requires that stumps be no taller than eight inches.)
• Never cut a tall tree just for the top.
• Attach your permit to the cut tree before moving it to your vehicle.
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Once you’ve safely brought your tree home, there are a few things you’ll want to remember to keep it green through the holidays. For instance, make a fresh cut on the trunk before placing the tree in its stand.
Be sure your stand will adequately hold enough water for your tree. (Most Christmas trees require one quart of water per inch of the trunk’s diameter.)
Finally, position your tree away from any heat sources. Use only low-heat LED lights, and always turn the lights off when you’re away from home.
Enjoy your Christmas tree — compliments of Mother Nature and the U.S. Forest Service!