If your Christmas spirit gets a boost from going to the woods to cut your own Christmas tree, then the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management can help out.
With a permit, you can cut a Christmas tree in all the national forests in Montana and on public lands served by BLM’s Missoula, Dillon, and Butte field offices.
Forest Service offices selling permits in Southwest Montana are located in Philipsburg, Butte, Dillon, Wisdom, Sheridan, and Ennis.
Christmas tree-cutting permits are $5, and each family may purchase up to three permits. Cutting trees without a permit is subject to a citation and fine.
Free Permits for 4th Graders! As part of the ‘Every Kid in a Park’ (EKIP) national initiative which strives to connect youth with nature, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF and the BLM are offering one free Christmas tree permit to every fourth grader. To participate in the free holiday tree program visit www.everykidinapark.gov. Fourth graders must present a valid EKIP Pass or paper voucher at their local Forest Service or BLM office (not vendors) to receive their free permit.
Tree cutting is not allowed in wilderness areas or in BLM-administered wilderness study areas.
When you purchase a permit, you will also receive a helpful information sheet that gives advice on how to best cut and care for your Christmas tree.
Forest Service and BLM offices are open weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The following locations also sell permits:
- Anaconda: Hardware Hank
- Boulder: Hardware Hank
- Butte: Bob Ward and Sons Sporting Goods; and Ace Hardware
- Deer Lodge: I-90 Truck Plaza
- Drummond: Fic’s Conoco
- Ennis: True Value Hardware
- Harrison: Wheat and Thistle
- Lima: Ralph’s Exxon
- Sheridan: McLeod Mercantile
- Whitehall: Ace Hardware
You may also buy permits by mail. Send a check for $5 to the nearest Forest Service office (make the check out to “USDA Forest Service”) or to the nearest BLM office (make the check out to “USDI Bureau of Land Management”). Be sure to include your name and address .
For more information contact the Forest Service at (406) 683-3900, or the BLM at (406) 533-7600.
From Bitterroot National Forest:
Hamilton, Montana – Cutting your own Christmas tree is a special holiday outing available to those who live near National Forest Lands. There’s an abundant choice of trees and species on the Bitterroot National Forest. In order to remove a Christmas tree from the National Forest, you need to have a Christmas tree permit.
They may be purchased for $5 beginning this Tuesday, November 13th at any Forest Service office or at authorized retailers including Bob Wards, Murdoch’s, and Lone Pine Conoco in Hamilton, Mr. T’s in Darby, Merc Fresh Market in Corvallis, and Cenex in Stevensville. Only cash or personal check will be accepted for payment.
Free Permits for 4th Graders! As part of the ‘Every Kid in a Park’ (EKIP) national initiative which strives to connect youth with nature, the Bitterroot National Forest is offering one free Christmas tree permit to every fourth grader. To participate in the free holiday tree program visit www.everykidinapark.gov. Fourth graders must present a valid EKIP Pass or paper voucher at their local Forest Service office (not vendors) to receive their free permit. For more information call (406) 363-7100.
Here are some tips for you to get the best tree possible, and manage the forest for years to come.
- 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.
- Please 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 Mon-Fri. 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Maps are $14 each.
- Be prepared for winter conditions and take a vehicle equipped with 4-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. If you want to remove Christmas trees for fundraising or boughs for commercial use, please visit or call the Darby/Sula Ranger District at (406) 821-3913.
For more information contact the Bitterroot National Forest office near you or visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot. Stay in touch with us through www.facebook.com/DiscoverBitterrootNF and www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF.
Have a safe and enjoyable outing and Happy Holidays!
Bitterroot National Forest – Hamilton 363-7100
Stevensville Ranger District – 777-5461
Darby/Sula Ranger District – 821-3913
West Fork Ranger District – 821-3269