The green way to do Christmas |

The green way to do Christmas

Sam Bauman

For the holidays, you can’t beat the festive aroma of a fresh-cut tree that you harvested yourself.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offer tree cutting permits for $10 and $5 respectively.

In addition to saving money, an added benefit to cutting your own tree is that, if you follow the rules, you’ll be improving the forest.

By cutting a tree that is within 10 feet of another green tree, you help thin the forest for its health. Make sure the trunk is no larger than 6 inches at the base.

Shelly Schaff, Christmas tree program manager at the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Carson City Ranger station, and Anne Thomas, an administrator at the station, took a walk shortly after the Christmas tree program started at one of the official sites at Spooner Summit, where a dirt road leads into the forest.

“We have 4,000 permits to be sold and already we’ve sold 600,” said Schniff.

The permits are good for four Forest Service areas:

Dog Valley by Verdi

Mount Rose off Highway 431

Spooner Summit, off Highway 50

A large area by Markleeville

All are marked by boundary signs. Maps are available at the Forest Service and BLM offices. Tree hunters should make sure their yellow tags are visible at all times.

“You don’t want to cut outside the area,” said Thomas. “That’s a $250 fine and you don’t get to keep the tree.”

Clambering up the hillside off the dirt road, Schniff paused at a tall stump.

“This is very bad for the forest; people should cut trees no higher than 6 inches above the ground. When they leave a stump like this they leave a tree that will grow ugly and use water and food that a good tree could utilize.”

Farther up the hill, Thomas came to a very tall tree stump.

“This is an example of ‘topping’ a tree. The people here wanted a nicely formed tree so they cut it up high rather than low as they should have. That way they don’t have to trim the bottom half, but it sure hurts the woods.”

“We recommend people cut their trees as early as possible. When snow closes the roads the only way in is by snowshoe, fine for those who enjoy it,” said Schniff. “No refunds if you can’t get to the trees.”

The Forest Service and BLM suggest that tree seekers carry emergency supplies, tire chains, flares and extra clothing. A cell phone is also a good take-along. Thomas will be on duty much of the tree cutting period, patrolling the areas.


U.S. Forest Service: 882-2766.

Permit: $10 per tree; limit two

Available at Carson Ranger District office, 1536 S. Carson St., from 8 a.m-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday throug Dec. 24.

BLM: 885-6000.

Permit: $5 per tree; no limit

Available at the District Office in Carson City, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through Dec 24.

Bring with you: saws, warm clothing, a first aid kit, extra food and water, heavy rope or chain, shovel and tire chains in the event of bad road conditions or inclement weather.

Keeping your tree green

Forest Service tips:

* Re-cut the trunk at an angle 1 to 3 inches above the original cut.

* Store the tree outside in a container of water, out of direct sunlight.

* Add a few tablets of aspirin to the water, about two per gallon. Don’t be concerned if the water freezes.

* When you bring the tree inside, re-cut the base about an inch above the earlier cut.

* Be sure to keep the tree stand filled at all times with water and aspirin mixture.