WASHINGTON — For the second season, the USDA Forest Service is selling Christmas Tree permits through Recreation.gov, which makes it more convenient for visitors to find and purchase permits to cut holiday trees from their favorite forest. Permits will be available beginning on October 14 and may vary by forest. In 2020, 90 percent of National Forests that offer Christmas Tree permits made them available through Recreation.gov, and more joined the system for the 2021 season.
“Every tree that is found, cut and carried home creates a new story,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “These stories become the memories and traditions we carry on for generations and further connect families with their local forests.”
A great example of a touching story is by Braxton Lemmon who submitted her “Here’s Our Tree” story into the Share Your Story adventure writing contest. Lemmon describes their family’s first introduction to a tree cutting adventure into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in northern Utah, “After several minutes, my sister called for us in an excited tone. Sure enough, she had found it. About eighteen feet from tip to base with perfectly imperfect branches for decorating, the tree stood out from the rest.”
Recreation.gov makes it easy to purchase a permit. “We heard from many visitors that they liked the new online permit system, and we also heard from local forests that permit sales were incredibly successful,” said Rick DeLappe, Recreation.gov Program Manager. In fact, Kerri G., a Plumas National Forest permit holder, provided a five-star rating from their experience and commented that “The website for Christmas Tree cutting permits was very easy to navigate, pay and print! Thank you so much for this convenient service.”
Instead of visiting a Forest Service office in person, visitors can go to Recreation.gov and search for their local forest. Once on Recreation.gov, forests provide important details, like cutting area maps, types of trees to cut, and important planning tips on their respective permit pages. “It is important to remember that visitors will need to print the permit and display it on the dash of their vehicle on the day of their visit to cut their trees,” said DeLappe. Also keep in mind that many forests will continue to sell permits in person or through local vendors.
Fourth graders with an Every Kid Outdoors pass are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit and can apply by entering the pass or voucher number when purchasing a permit. And kids of all ages can download, color, and decorate their tree with this Christmas tree ornament coloring page for a fun, handmade addition to their tree.
Cutting a Christmas tree improves forest health. The permit system helps to thin densely populated stands of small-diameter trees. Local forest health experts identify areas that benefit from thinning trees and tend to be the perfect size for Christmas trees. Removing these trees in designated areas helps other trees grow larger and can open areas that provide food for wildlife.
- Recreation.gov Christmas Tree Permit page with map interface
- Help Center article “How Do I Purchase and Print a Christmas Tree Permit?”
- Cut a Tree for the Holidays from Your National Forest article
- Share Your Story adventure writing contest
- Every Kid Outdoors Fourth Grade pass program
- Every Kid Outdoors Christmas tree ornament coloring page
–USDA Forest Service; Recreation.gov
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