It’s around this time of the year we start seeing Christmas trees on top of vehicles heading south. Many people come to our neck of the woods to select their trees and not from the lot at the Holiday Station store. They head into the woods with a saw, axe or chainsaw in hand and a picture of the perfect tree in their head. I hope to get a tree this weekend but will most likely find it on our own property. Here’s some information from the USFS on cutting trees from forest land.
Kristina Reichenbach, Superior National Forest
GATHERING GREENS – A HOLIDAY TRADITION ON SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST
DULUTH, MN (November 21, 2014) Gathering your own Christmas tree or balsam boughs on the national forest is a great way to get outdoors with your family and celebrate the holidays. For many people this is an annual tradition.
Christmas trees: You may stop by any of our Forest Service offices to obtain a permit for a Christmas tree. A permit to cut one Christmas tree on the Superior National Forest costs $5.00. Two Christmas tree permits are allowed per household per year. These are not intended for commercial use.
Boughs: Permits for bough gathering are only available at Ranger District offices. Contact the Ranger District office closest to the area where you plan to collect. A “personal use” permit for gathering balsam boughs on the Superior National Forest allows for enough boughs to make approximately 5 door-size wreaths and costs $20.00. If you plan to harvest a large amount of boughs, a commercial permit must be purchased.
Be sure you use your permit in the right place. Parcels of state, county, tribal and private lands are intermixed with national forest lands within the Superior National Forest boundary. Cutting of Christmas trees and boughs is not allowed inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, plantations, recreation areas, or administrative sites. Visitor maps of the Superior National Forest which show land ownership are available for $10.00 at all Forest offices and also via internet.
You may use your Off-highway vehicles (OHVs), including ATVs and dirt bikes, only on designated trails and specific roadways. Motor vehicle use maps are available at Forest offices and are posted on our website. Snowmobiles may be used on designated trails and cross-country in most areas or on unplowed roads with a 4-inch minimum snow cover. Check with the Forest office issuing your permit about any restrictions in the area you plan to visit.
Superior National Forest office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, with the exception of federal holidays. Permits and maps may be obtained by mail but you must allow time for a check to travel through the mail and materials to be returned.
Make your tree-cutting outing a safe and enjoyable experience by following these tips:
- Arrive early at your cutting area as it may take longer than you think to find that special tree.Bring snacks and water as well.
- Check the weather outlook and be ready for changing conditions.
- Carry tire chains, shovel, flashlights, and blankets in your vehicle, plus rope to tie down your tree. Many national forest roads are not maintained or snowplowed during the winter, so be sure that your vehicle is equipped for winter travel and has a full tank of gas.
- Wear proper winter clothing and carry extras in case you get wet. You might be warm, dry and comfortable when you start, but you may get tired and cold as the day wears on.
- Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Check in when you return.
- Don’t rely on your cell phone as it may not work in many areas of the forest.
- Keep aware of your location. Bring a map, compass or GPS technology and know how to use it.
- Watch for other traffic – on foot, on the road, and on the trails and be aware that hunting season may still be underway.
For a printable flyer and additional information, visit the Superior National Forest web site at: www.fs.usda.gov/superior
The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes twenty states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.
The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.