The following is a news release from the Gallatin and Custer National Forests.
Christmas tree permits will be available for purchase Tuesday, November 12th across all districts on the Custer and Gallatin National Forests.
For many, gathering evergreen boughs and a Christmas tree to help celebrate the holiday season is a tradition that goes back to the 16th century. Forest Service offices in Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Livingston, Gardiner, Big Timber, Red Lodge, Billings and Ashland, MT along with Camp Crook, SD will have permits available from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday for $5.00 each, with a limit of three permits per household. Permits are sold in person and cash or check is recommended; debit and credit are generally not accepted. Permits are also available at these local businesses:
· Belgrade: Lee & Dad's IGA and Belgrade True Value
· Bozeman: Owenhouse Ace Hardware (downtown store bicycle shop and W. Main St. store), Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply
· West Yellowstone: Corner Conoco
· Livingston: Livingston Ace Hardware
· Gardiner: Gardiner Market
· Red Lodge: Red Lodge True Value and Sylvan Peak Enterprises
· Ekalaka: Carter County Conservation District
In South Dakota at:
· Buffalo: Harding County Conservation District,
· Bowman: Bowman/Slope Soil Conservation Service
A permit can also be purchased for gathering personal-use boughs. Permits, maps, forest road access updates and tree species identification guides are available at each ranger district office.
"Cutting a Christmas tree is a great tradition and fun family activity," said Mariah Leuschen Public Affairs Specialist for the Custer and Gallatin National Forests. "Take along some layers for changing weather conditions, enjoy spending the time outdoors and don't forget to bring rope or bungee cords for securing the tree."
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. General guidelines for cutting a tree include the following:
· No tree cutting is allowed within 50 feet of any stream, lake, or wetland.
· Only trees 15 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.