Permits to cut Christmas trees on the Austin-Tonopah, Ely, and Mountain City-Ruby Mountains-Jarbidge Ranger Districts on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest will be available for purchase beginning Friday, Nov. 1. The U.S. Forest Service Christmas Tree Program is designed for families, businesses, and institutions wishing to cut their own trees for decorating.

Christmas tree permits must be purchased in person and are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis for $5 each with a limit of five per household. Permits are nonrefundable and nontransferable, and only valid through Dec. 25, 2019.

Each Christmas tree permit is valid for the cutting of one tree in specific areas on lands managed by the Ranger District for which the permit was purchased. A map and cutting rules and regulations will be included with your permit. The permit does not authorize cutting on private, state, or other federal lands. Christmas trees also cannot be harvested within developed campgrounds, administrative sites, or designated wilderness areas.

The topping of Christmas trees has caused problems in previous years by leaving behind high tree stumps. Please ensure that the maximum height of the stump left behind is no taller than six inches above bare soil with no live branches left on the stump. REMEMBER TOPPING TREES IS NOT PERMITTED! Also attach the Christmas tree permit securely to the tree so it is visible during transportation. Remember to bring a rope and tarp to pack your tree in or on your vehicle for the trip home.

“Keep your family and your own safety in mind as you head out to look for a Christmas tree on National Forest lands,” said Duncan Leao, Vegetation Program Manager for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “Dress warmly, fill your gas tank, and bring along a saw, shovel, tire chains, map, food, water, warm drinks, blankets, and first-aid kit. Also, make sure relatives or friends know where you are going and when to expect you home.”

Getting your tree early before the snow falls usually means better access on Forest roads. High-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles and traction devices are recommended when driving on mountain roads at this time of year. Vehicles with inadequate tires and/or no chains have caused extensive problems in the past, blocking roads and preventing other drivers from being able to enter or leave the cutting areas.

Remember, most forest roads are not plowed in the winter, so access may be limited due to seasonal road closures. Leave early in the day to allow for maximum daylight. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, check road conditions before leaving, and always use caution when emerging onto main roads.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is also pleased to announce that all fourth grade students are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit, while supplies last, through the Every Kid in a Park initiative. Every Kid in a Park is a nationwide call to action to build the next generation of conservationists. All fourth graders are eligible to receive a fourth grade pass that allows free access to federal lands and waters across the country for a full year. In support of this initiative, the Forest Service is making available a free Christmas tree permit to every interested fourth grader with a fourth grade pass or paper voucher.

For additional information about the initiative and how to obtain a pass, visit www.everykidinapark.gov. To be eligible for a free Christmas tree permit from the HumboldtToiyabe National Forest, all fourth graders must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and present their fourth grade pass or paper voucher.

For additional information on Christmas tree cutting rules and regulation, and cutting area maps visit: http://bit.ly/HTNFChristmasTreePermit