For many Coloradans, cutting down their own Christmas tree in our national forests is a cherished family tradition, and often these Thanksgiving weekend trips are planned while families are together.
“I have fond memories of taking my daughter, who is now 15, to cut down a Christmas tree when she was still learning to walk,” said Brian Banks, an official with Pike-San Isabel National Forests quoted in the Forests website. “Now she will drive us. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors while helping the forest service maintain resilient landscapes.”
It’s all legal as long as you play by the rules.
Required permits are available through entertainment.gov. From the home page, click Permits and refine your search to Tree Permits where you will see a list of Christmas tree felling locations in the national forests ranked by distance from where you live. In some national forests, permits are also available from local dealers or district ranger offices. Permits must be obtained before felling trees.
Fourth graders are eligible for free permits through a program called Every Kid Outdoors, which gives them and their families free access to state lands. Go to everykidoutdoors.gov to register your child and download a voucher to redeem in person or online. When reserving your cutting permit at recovery.gov, you must check a box indicating you have a child who is registered with Every Kid Outdoors.
Rules and prices for tree felling permits vary from one national forest to another. Each forest lists them online, along with the locations of county offices and dealers where permits can be purchased in person. Here are some details for the five forests closest to Denver:
White River National Forest: Permits ($10) are available at county offices, local vendors, and online at recreation.gov. For a list of in-person purchase vendors, visit the White River website. Online purchases include a $2.50 service charge.
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests: Permits ($20) are available at entertainment.gov. A webpage on the forest’s website has a link where you can find regulations and maps of places where felling is allowed. The Forests website also has a list of vendors for personal purchase. Online purchases include a $2.50 service charge.
Pike-San Isabel National Forests: Permit costs vary ($10-$20) by forest district. They are available through recovery.gov for a $2.50 transaction fee. Most districts in these forests also allow personal purchase of permits at district ranger offices. Check the forest’s website for rules and more details.
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