Permits now available to cut your own Christmas tree

Starting today, you can get a permit to cut your own Christmas tree.

Cutting your own tree is a holiday tradition for many Montanans. But in order to take a tree from a national forest, you need to have a permit.

Those are available now, and can be purchased for $5 at any Forest Service office or at authorized retailer.

If you plan to cut your own tree, here are a few tips from the National Forest Service:

  • Taking a tree from an overcrowded area will give the remaining trees more space, moisture and light to grow.
  • Cutting is not allowed in restricted areas such as developed recreation sites and campgrounds, existing timber sale areas or previously thinned areas.
  • Do not cut out the top of a tree or leave a stump higher than eight inches.
  • Be sure you are cutting your tree on National Forest land. Maps of the National Forest may be purchased at any Forest Service office, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Maps are $10 each.
  • Be prepared for winter conditions and take a vehicle equipped with four-wheel drive, snow tires or chains. Start early since winter days are shorter. Keep a watchful eye for snowmobiles and other recreationists walking, skiing or sledding on back roads.
  • If your tree won’t be set up right away, store it in a cool area. When you’re ready to bring it indoors, cut at least an inch off the bottom. The tree will be thirsty, so make sure there is always plenty of water in the tree stand. This will prolong the life of the tree through the holidays.
  • Permits are for personal use only and limited to three per family.