Cutting a fresh Christmas tree is an incredible experience. It fosters a love of the outdoors. It strengthens the relationships among those on the outing, and it creates memories that last for years to come. To ensure the experience and the memories it fosters are as picture-perfect as possible, cut your holiday tree responsibly.

The first step in responsibly taking a Christmas tree is to purchase a permit. A permit allows tree-seekers to thin selected overstocked areas, improving forest health. Permitted cutting helps manage ladder fuels and reduce wildfire danger. Several local agencies offer Christmas tree permits.

The Bureau of Land Management sells permits for pinyon pine or juniper trees on designated Bureau lands. The permit cost is $5. For more information, call 775-885-6161.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit also sells permits. They cost $10 and are good for pine, fir or cedar trees in specified cutting areas. See more information online  or call 530-581-6900.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest begins permit sales. Permits are valid for white fir, Jeffrey pine, lodgepole pine, juniper, pinyon pine and incense cedar trees in designated areas. To learn more call 775-331-6444.

If you have a fourth-grade student at home, a free permit may be available. Ask about the Every Kid in a Park program.

The next step in responsibly taking a fresh-cut Christmas tree is to be prepared. Bring first aid supplies, warm clothes, food and water. Take a heavy rope or chain, a shovel and tire chains.

Also bring a tarp to protect your vehicle from sap and debris, a plastic bag and duct tape to wrap your tree’s stump and tie-downs to secure the tree. Leave axes and chainsaws at home. For an apartment-sized tree, take along a 10-inch folding handsaw. If you want a bigger tree, carry a bow saw.

Bring your permit too. Remember to read, understand and follow its instructions, park safely and legally and take only approved trees from authorized areas. Do not trespass on or take trees from private property.

The last step is to care for your tree after it is cut. Wind and sun will dry out the tree, and its cut will start to seal itself. So, once your tree is down, head home. If it takes longer than six to eight hours to get your tree home and into its water-filled stand, you will need to recut the stump. Making this fresh cut will help the tree absorb water. Also make a fresh cut if the tree stand runs dry at any time during the holiday season.

To prolong your tree’s life, place it away from heat sources, lower the room’s temperature, and maintain a water supply in its stand of at least 1 quart of cool water for each inch of stem diameter.

Responsibly taking a fresh-cut Christmas tree takes work, but the unforgettable holiday memories it creates are more than worth the effort.

Andrews, A. 2016, Fresh-Cut Christmas Trees Create Memories, Improve Forest Health, Reno Gazette-Journal

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