Posted by: columbiahighlands | December 8, 2010

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how close to home can I find thee?

It’s not too late to continue—or begin—a tradition of cutting the family Christmas tree in your backyard wilds: The Colville National Forest allows Christmas tree cutting until Dec. 24th.

All that’s required—besides a saw and a little sweat, of course–is a $5 permit, available at any Colville National Forest ranger station. Families can purchase up to three permits.

The Colville National Forest has on its 1.1 million acres extensive native populations of popular Christmas tree species, including Douglas-fir and grand fir.

Cutting your own Christmas tree can benefit four-legged families, too: prudent pruning of overstocked second- and third-growth forests can open up habitat for wildlife, and give neighboring trees a boost with more room to grow and less competition for water, sun, and nutrients.

Before you go, check with a ranger station for the best locations for harvesting your tree.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are planning to park in a Washington Sno-Park lot, be sure to have affixed to your windshield a Sno-Park permit.
  • Do not cut in developed recreation areas or within 50 feet of a road.
  • Cut close to the ground; the cut tree should be shorter than 12 feet. Resist the urge to lop off the top of a large tree.
  • And, most important, be safe. Before setting out, be prepared for wintry conditions. Pack plenty of warm clothes, extra food and water. Keep a snow shovel and tire chains in your vehicle. Park your vehicle facing downhill in case conditions worsen while you’re out.  And don’t forget the Thermos of hot chocolate!
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