Montana is a winter wonderland this time of year and in some parts of the state the public can access public land to cut down a Christmas tree. Flathead National Forest is one of them, and forest personnel issued the following advice:
Beginning November 23, Christmas tree permits will be available at each of the Flathead National Forest offices in Kalispell, Hungry Horse, and Bigfork, and from a variety of retail vendors in the area. A complete list of vendors can be found on the Forest’s website, www.fs.usda.gov/flathead. Each permit costs five dollars and is valid for one tree. There is a maximum of two permits allowed per household. Commercial permits are not available.
New this year as part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative, all fourth graders are eligible for one free Christmas tree permit. For students to receive the free tree permit, they must present a valid paper or plastic Every Kid in a Park pass. To obtain the pass, visit www.everykidinapark.gov, follow the instructions on the website then print out the paper voucher. Bring the paper voucher to a Forest Service office to claim the free tree permit. The fourth grader and adult must present the voucher in person at the office location.
The Forest Service is one of several federal agencies participating in the Every Kid in a Park initiative, a nationwide call to action to inspire young people across the country to visit their national parks, forests, public lands and waters. Getting outdoors to find and cut the family Christmas tree is one way for kids and families to explore, learn and play in these special places that belong to all of us.
Tips for selecting your Christmas tree:
The forest has an abundant choice of trees and areas from which to choose for selecting your tree.
Help us keep a healthy forest, by not cutting trees in campgrounds or other developed areas, plantations, in previously thinned stands and areas posted closed to Christmas tree cuttings.
Please select a tree that is three to four inches in diameter or less at the stump.
Cut the stump as close to the ground as possible, 8” or shorter.
Trim the live limbs off the stump.
Help us keep healthy trees and not cut the top off a large tree.
Once your tree is cut fasten the permit around the tree trunk before transporting it.
The Christmas tree permit is valid only for National Forest System lands. There are other privately-owned and industry-owned lands in the Flathead Valley area that may not allow Christmas tree cutting, so please check the ownership of the land before you cut a tree.
Drive safely and be alert for winter driving conditions. It is always a good idea to have a map and be aware of your location.
For a permit or more information about Christmas tree cutting, please contact a local Forest Service office:
Tally Lake Ranger District/Supervisor’s Office –758-5204
Hungry Horse, Glacier View and Spotted Bear Ranger Districts — 387-3800
Swan Lake Ranger District — 837-7500