Find the perfect holiday tree on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
A fresh-cut, personally selected Christmas tree from the National Forest adds to the holiday season and is a way to stretch holiday dollars.
A cutting permit costs $5 per tree and can be purchased at any U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Station. Up to five permits can be sold to a household. Permits and maps may be also obtained by mail but you must allow time for a check to travel through the mail and permit to be returned.
Forest Service permits come with a list of guidelines that include reminders that no trees may be cut in wilderness areas, marked timber sale areas or within 300 feet of campgrounds, lodges, summer homes, private lands and ranger stations.
“Bringing home a tree from a national forest is a wonderful holiday tradition,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said. “We want to make sure families are safe this holiday season as they venture into the forest to find the perfect tree-be aware of changing weather conditions, dress accordingly and always follow safe cutting practices.”
Here are some tips for a safe and successful tree search:
• Make sure the chosen tree is on National Forest System lands; visitor maps can be viewed or purchased at Forest Service offices including your local district ranger office.
• Tree cutting is not permitted in designated wilderness areas.
• Choose a cutting area that is away from private property, plantations, developed recreation or administration sites.
• Select a tree at least 50 feet off the roadside, trail, lake or recreation site.
• Select a tree the correct size for each home. Please don’t cut the top off of a taller tree.
• Arrive early at the cutting area. It may take longer than thought to find that special tree.
• Be prepared for a winter outdoor experience. Wear proper clothing, bring plenty of snacks and water and make sure vehicles are prepared for winter travel. Many national forest roads are not maintained or snowplowed during the winter.
• Those cutting down trees should let someone know where they are going and when to they are expected back. Don’t rely on cell phones as they may not work in many areas of the forest.
• Don’t forget a rope to tie down the tree. After the tree has been cut down, wrap it in a tarp and tie it to the car’s roof.
• Cut the tree a bit longer than needed (6 to 12 inches), to have room to make a fresh cut on the bottom just before bringing it into the warm house. Don’t cut it too much in advance as it will begin to seal up.
• Get the tree into its stand as soon as possible.
• As the tree warms and thaws it will take up water; it will need a lot more when it’s new, so check the reservoir frequently in the beginning. Even though it has been cut, the tree is still “alive” and the needles will take on water. As the days go on, the cells in the cut end react to the wound and seal up and less water will be used, and the tree will begin to die.
For more information, call the CNNF District Ranger Offices in Eagle River at 715-479-2827.