by J. Thomas Gebauer, ALSA
♪Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!♫
Choosing a Christmas tree is a fun event that brings families together and creates memories for a lifetime. Heading out into the cold with your family, cutting down and decorating your Christmas tree can be some of the strongest memories we have as children. The sap on your hands. The scent of the needles. The hassle of getting the tree to stand up straight.
In Jackson Hole, Wyoming we have a few choices when it comes to choosing a live Christmas tree. The easiest and most convenient are Christmas tree farms where they sell selected pre-cut Christmas trees. When choosing a tree from a tree farm you will want to select a tree by it’s needle color, softness, overall shape, height, branch firmness and scent.
Common Available Species Found at Tree Farms are:
These species are selected due to the fact that that many native trees to the area, such as the Douglas Fir, will not maintain their green color and will start to rapidly lose their needles once cut if they are left outside. Most of these trees will be cut and shipped from Oregon or North Carolina.
Some nurseries offer an alternative to buying a cut tree where you can buy a potted Colorado Spruce (Picea pungent) or a Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca). This option allows you to decorate your tree during the winter and plant the tree outside your home in the spring. This option reduces waste and adds more beautiful trees! Research proper planting methods or consult a professional to ensure your new tree is planted properly, ensuring you new tree will survive for generations to come.
Another wonderful option that is available to us as lucky neighbors to our National Forests is obtaining a permit, finding and cutting down your own tree. Permits are available at any district office, visitor center, local vendor or by mail. Be sure to read all information available as cutting of Christmas trees is prohibited in certain areas within the National Forests. For more information click here or call (307) 739-5010.
Available Species Within Bridger-Teton National Forest
For the Bridger Teton National Forest Permits are on sale October 1st through December 31st and are priced as follows:
Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Keep in mind who will be cutting the tree and that you might want to delayer before sawing, as otherwise you might over heat, sweat and then have the potential for hypothermia upon cooling down.
Make sure that you take an appropriate vehicle for the terrain and roads keeping in mind that you might encounter snow in the forests even if there is no snow in the valley. Make sure your vehicle has plenty of gas and bring extra water and snacks for everyone in your party. Make sure to have a plan to get the tree from the forest to your house safely. Whether using truck or car make sure to have straps to safely harness the tree to your vehicle.
If buying from a tree farm, ask them to cut off the bottom 2″ or so from the trunk as the tree will have sap settled in the bottom as a natural method to prevent moisture loss. Re-cutting the trunk lets the tree absorb water again and will keep the tree looking and smelling fresh.
The City of Jackson recommends that you drop off your old Christmas tree at the fair grounds recycling center. Another option is to take your tree to the transfer station south of town free of charge.
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“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.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright