People wanting to cut their own Christmas tree in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest can purchase permits beginning Wednesday.
The $5-per-tree permits are available at all ranger district offices, forest headquarters in Vancouver, Wash., and at several commercial vendors.
You may cut one tree per permit, and there is a five-permit maximum per household. Permits are not refundable for any reason.
There are a number of restrictions when cutting trees on forest land. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is closed to tree-cutting. Tree-cutting also is prohibited in wilderness areas, developed campgrounds, administrative sites, within 300 feet of streams, on private or state-owned lands within national forest boundaries and in other posted areas.
Cutting on private lands is subject to trespass action. If you’re unsure about areas available for tree-cutting, contact the nearest Forest Service office.
Before setting out on your trip, check the forest website, fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot, or call the forest office nearest your destination for the latest road and weather updates. Be alert for unpredictable weather and hazardous driving conditions.
As colder, wetter weather arrives, conditions can change quickly during a tree-cutting excursion. Here are some recommendation from forest managers:
• Be prepared for cold and changing winter weather conditions.
• Carry tire chains, a shovel, flashlights and a blanket in your vehicle.
• Bring extra food and hot beverages.
• Arrive at your cutting area early to avoid travel in the dark on the way home.
• Wear proper winter clothing and carry extras in case you get wet.
• Most forest roads are not maintained or snowplowed during the winter.
• Drive safely and slowly — turn on your lights and watch for ice.
• Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
The Cowlitz Valley ranger district office, the closest to the South Sound, is open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., but is closed daily for lunch from noon-1 p.m.
Forest headquarters and the Mount St. Helens monument headquarters in Amboy are open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
All offices are closed Thanksgiving Day.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie: Permit cost $10 each, one tree per permit, with a tree height limit of 12 feet. Trees taller than 12 feet require a tall-tree permit for $20. Permits are sold at the Outdoor Recreation Information Center inside the Seattle REI store and at the forest offices in Enumclaw (360-825-6585) and North Bend (425-888-1421). For details, go to fs.usda.gov/mbs.
Olympic: Tree permits go on sale in mid-November. They are $5 each and are good for one self-cut tree in the Olympic National Forest. Permits may be purchased at any Olympic National Forest office or by mail. For details, go to fs.usda.gov/main/olympic/home.