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Christmas tree cutting permits available

Staff Reports
A family cuts a Christmas tree last year.
Tahoe Daily Tribune

Christmas tree permits for National Forest System lands on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Bridgeport and Carson Ranger Districts are available for purchase online through Recreation.gov, as well as in-person at multiple locations.

Details about designated cutting areas, dates and types of trees that may be cut can be found at http://bit.ly/HTNFChristmasTreePermit.

“We are excited to be able to continue this holiday tradition, despite the challenges faced from COVID-19,” said Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger. “For many families, venturing into NFS lands to cut their Christmas tree for the holidays is a treasured tradition carried on for generations.”

The U.S. Forest Service Christmas Tree Program is designed for families, businesses, and institutions wishing to cut their own trees for decorating. Christmas tree permits are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis for $10 each, with a limit of two trees per household. Permits are nonrefundable and nontransferable, and only valid through Dec. 25. The Carson Ranger District has a limited amount of Christmas tree permits available, and once those allotted permits are sold, no more will be available.

The forest decided to move permit sales to Recreation.gov as an added convenience for visitors, as well as provide an alternative to in-person transactions at Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest offices in Carson City and Sparks that remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Customer service is one of our core values and it just makes sense for the forest to expand its Christmas tree permit sales though this popular and secure online system,” added Dunkelberger.

To purchase a Christmas tree permit online, visit Recreation.gov and search for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Christmas tree permits (https://www.recreation.gov/tree-permits/0b7eb323-ebc7-11ea-98dd-e638fec87f2e). It is important to carefully read the overview and need-to-know information prior to purchasing the permit. Visitors will need to set up or login to a Recreation.gov account to complete the transaction. Please be aware that if purchasing through Recreation.gov there will be an additional fee of $2.50 per transaction.

While the Bridgeport Ranger District office remains closed to the public, the district is still selling Christmas tree permits from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every weekday, except Wednesday. The public can purchase permits by stopping by the office (75694 U.S. 395, Bridgeport, California) and adding their name to a sign-up sheet outside the front office window. After returning to their vehicle, staff will call the person to handle transactions over the phone. Recreational passes, fuelwood permits, campfire permits, and maps can also be purchased this same way.

Each Christmas tree permit is valid for the cutting of one tree on lands managed by the Ranger District for which the permit was purchased. A map and cutting rules and regulations will be included with the permit. The permit does not authorize cutting on private, state, or other federal lands. Christmas trees cannot be harvested within developed campgrounds, administrative sites, or designated wilderness areas. There are areas on both the Bridgeport and Carson Ranger Districts that area closed to Christmas tree cutting due to public safety and wildfire impacts, please refer to the maps provided with the permit.

The topping of Christmas trees has resulted to serious problems in previous years by leaving behind high tree stumps. Please ensure that the maximum height of the stump left behind is no taller than six inches above bare soil with no live branches left on the stump. Remember: Topping trees is not permitted! If you’ve purchased a Christmas tree permit in person, make sure the adhesive tag is attached securely to the tree, so it is visible during transportation. If you purchased your permit through Recreation.gov, a copy of the permit is required to be placed visibly on your vehicle dashboard.

“Keep your family and your own safety in mind as you head out to look for a Christmas tree on National Forest lands,” said Vegetation Program Manager Duncan Leao. “Dress warmly and bring along a saw, shovel, map, snacks and water. Also make sure relatives or friends know where you are going and when to expect you home.”

Getting your tree early before the snow falls usually means better access on forest roads. High-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles and traction devices are recommended when driving on mountain roads at this time of year. Vehicles with inadequate tires and/or no chains have caused extensive problems in the past, blocking roads and preventing other drivers from being able to enter or leave the cutting areas. Remember, most forest roads are not plowed in the winter. Leave early in the day to allow for maximum daylight. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, check road conditions before leaving, and always use caution when emerging onto main roads.