South Sound families will have plenty of opportunities to cut their own Christmas trees, as all three national forests in the area begin selling permits this week.
Permits are needed to cut trees on the Gifford Pinchot, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic national forests. Permits are available at ranger stations, forest headquarters and other locations in the area. Note that permits are nonrefundable.
There some areas on each forest where cutting is not allowed, including wilderness areas. Be sure to check on closed areas before heading out.
Because most cutting areas are accessible only by unplowed Forest Service roads, people should take precautions to assure their safety. Among tips offered by the Forest Service:
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• Be prepared for cold and changing winter weather conditions. Bring along tire chains and a shovel.
• Also carry flashlights and blanket in your vehicle.
• Bring extra food and hot beverages.
• Wear proper winter clothing and carry extras in case you get wet.
• Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back.
• Plan to purchase a parking permit ahead of time if the trip includes parking in a designated Sno-Park lot.
GIFFORD PINCHOT NATIONAL FOREST
Limit: Cut one tree per permit. Five permits per household maximum. Permits are valid for one-time use only.
Sale start: Go on sale Wednesday
Where to get permit: At all ranger district offices, forest headquarters in Vancouver and at commercial vendor locations, including Elbe, Ashford, Packwood and Randle.
Of note: The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is closed to tree cutting.
Information: 360-891-5000; www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/passes/christmas-trees
MOUNT BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST
Cost: $10 each, with a tree height limit of 12 feet. Trees taller than 12 feet require a special permit at a minimum price of $20.
Limit: One tree per permit.
Sale start: On sale now
Where to get permit: At ranger stations, including Enumclaw, and the Verlot and Glacier public service centers, as well as REI’s Alderwood Mall and downtown Seattle stores.
Of note: Credit cards are accepted only at the Alderwood Mall REI location.
Information: 1-800-627-0062, www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs
OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST
Limit: One tree is allowed per household and permits are valid only in specified areas.
Sale start: Monday at forest headquarters in Olympia, but already on sale at other offices.
Where to get permit: At forest offices in Olympia, Hoodsport, Quilcene, Quinault, and Forks, or by mail through all except the Hoodsport Information Center.
Of note: Maps and information about cutting areas will be provided with each permit
Information: 360-965-2300, www.fs.fed.us/r6/olympic