Oh, Christmas tree: Find it, cut it and haul it yourself
• How to get started
Both the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have programs for people to cut trees on the agencies’ lands. USFS permits go on sale Sunday, $10 for a single tree, $20 for two trees (the maximum per family). BLM permits are $5 with a maximum of two per family. Permits can be obtained at the USFS or BLM office nearest you, 1536 Carson St. for the Forest Service, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, both in Carson city. No refunds on permits. Call 882-2766 for USFS information, 885-6000 for BLM.
• Where can trees be cut with the permit?
When you pick up your permit at the Forest Service you’ll get three maps. First is of the Dog Valley cutting area, over by Verdi. This is the farthest away. Second is the Highway 4 cutting area out Highway 88-89 past Markleeville, the smallest area. Most interesting is the third, Burnside cutting area at Picketts Junction. You earn your tree here because you park at the highway and can either cross country ski or snowshoe the one-mile length of the area, searching for the most beautiful tree. The BLM offers cutting areas in the Pine Nut Mountains, Clan Alpine, Desatoya Mountains and southeast of Hawthorne. You’ll get maps when you pick up your permit(s).
• What kind of trees are available?
In the BLM areas the pinion pine is the tree of choice. It has a nice scene but is also sticky with sap. In the USFS areas the Jeffery pine, the white pine and incense cedar are favorites. The Jeffery may be handsomer, but the white pine is better for hanging ornaments. At the forest service there will be a poster to help customers identify trees.
• What’s the best way to cut a tree?
Carson Ranger District Ranger Franklin Pemberton advises using a bow saw. “Ten quick strokes and you have the cut done. A chain saw is heavy, hard to start in the winter and, besides, it makes a lot of noise, not something conducive to peace and quiet in the woods. The maximum diameter for a Christmas tree is 6 inches at the base of the tree. And you must cut no higher than 6 inches from the ground. Cutting higher than that is called ‘topping’ and it causes damage to the forest in that the stump will continue to grow but eventually die after using nutrition that could have gone to surviving trees.
And you must cut within 10 feet of a living, green tree. This thins the forest for a better survival rate of trees.
And display the pink permit tag from a branch of the tree when carting it home.
• How do you get the tree home?
“Wrap it in a blanklet or plastic and tie it to the top of the car,” advised Pemberton. “Have the trunk end pointing forward. We don’t recommend using a trailer, they clog up the area and create a muddy mess.”