National forest offices in and around the South Sound will soon be selling permits to people wanting to cut down their own Christmas tree.
While this is a tradition for many families, U.S. Forest Service officials caution visitors to be prepared for winter conditions.
Most forest roads are not maintained for winter driving, so traction devices and a shovel are recommended, as well as extra food, drinking water, winter clothing, blankets, a flashlight and a first aid kit.
Don’t forget to bring a tool to cut your tree, and a rope or cord to secure it to your vehicle.
Because finding the right tree, cutting it and traveling back home might take longer than you think, let a friend or family member know where you’re going, get an early start and leave the woods well before dark.
Here is information for specific national forests:
GIFFORD PINCHOT: Permits will be available beginning Tuesday. They are $5 each (cash, check or credit card) and there is a limit of five permits per household. Permits are valid for one-time use only. When purchasing permits, you will receive a map of cutting areas and an information sheet with special instructions for cutting Christmas trees on the national forest.
Visitors can purchase Christmas tree permits at Gifford Pinchot National Forest offices and vendor locations, including forest headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, 360-891-5001; the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District office in Randle, 360-497-1100; Ashford General Store, 360-569-2377; Elbe Mall, 360-569-2772; Blanton’s Market in Packwod, 360-494-6101; Fischer’s Market in Randle, 360-497-5355; and Randle One Stop, 360-497-3261.
OLYMPIC: Permits will go on sale in the coming weeks, at $5 each. Credit cards are now accepted, along with cash and checks. There also is a mail order form available on the forest website.
Sale locations include forest headquarters in Olympia, 360-956-2402; and Hood Canal Ranger District office in Quilcene, 360-765-2200.
MOUNT BAKER-SNOQUALMIE: Permits for trees 12 feet tall and less are $10. For taller trees, a $20 permit is needed. They are on sale at forest offices, including one in Enumclaw, 360-825-6585; Silver Creek Visitor Center, 360-663-2245; and as the Outdoor Recreation Information Center at the Seattle REI, 206-470-4060.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640