With the approach of Thanksgiving, the season for harvesting a Christmas tree is right around the corner. Christmas tree permits went on sale this week November 13 on both the Custer and Gallatin national forests.
Christmas tree permits are available for purchase at all local ranger district offices, including Big Timber, Livingston, Gardiner, Bozeman and West Yellowstone on the Gallatin National Forest and Ashland, Red Lodge, Billings and Camp Crook, S.D., on the Custer National Forest.
“Cutting a Christmas tree around Thanksgiving or leading into December is a popular and longstanding family tradition for many,” said Mariah Leuschen, public affairs specialist for the Custer and Gallatin national forests. “It’s a great way to spend time outdoors with those close to you and possibly start a new tradition.”
Permits are $5 each with a limit of three permits per family. Permits can be purchased at Forest Service offices during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additionally, the Beartooth Ranger District will be open to sell tags on the four Saturdays immediately following Thanksgiving starting Nov. 24 and continuing on Dec. 1, 8 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Maps, forest road access updates and tree species identification guides are available at all offices.
Those with a permit may cut a Christmas tree anywhere on the Custer or Gallatin National Forest except in campgrounds, trailheads, designated wilderness areas, developed recreation sites, posted timber sale units, recently planted locations and administrative sites. Permits are also valid for any national forest in the Northern Region, which includes all of Montana, northern Idaho and portions of North and South Dakota.
No tree cutting is allowed within 100 feet of any stream, lake, or wetland. Only trees 12 feet tall or less may be cut.
* Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible and below the lowest live limb. A remaining stump height of 6 inches or less is ideal.
* After cutting your tree, attach the purchased permit to a lower limb near the trunk for transporting home.
* “Topping” trees, or cutting the top off trees, deforms any future growth and leaves a visual eyesore. Take the entire tree or choose another one.
* Trees help protect watersheds, provide habitat for wildlife, and contribute to beautiful scenery. Keep these values in mind when selecting a tree.
For more information, contact any Custer or Gallatin National Forest office or online at www.fs.usda.gov/custer and www.fs.usda.gov/gallatin.