On Nov. 18 the White Mountain National Forest will begin selling Christmas tree permits for the 2017 holiday season. Cutting your own Christmas tree can be an enjoyable adventure for the entire family and just may become a yearly tradition. Bundle up, make a lunch, bring your handsaw or ax and look for that special tree. You will need a permit, sharp saw, thermos of cocoa and a little patience.
A Christmas tree permit can be purchased for $5, cash or check only — from the White Mountain National Forest. Offices are located in Campton, Lincoln, Gorham and Conway N.H. For office hours and permits visit: www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain.
This year one free holiday tree cutting permit will be issued to fourth graders who present a valid Every Kid in a Park pass. The Forest Service is among a number of federal agencies supporting the Every Kid in a Park initiative; more information can be found at www.everykidinapark.gov.
Several different types of evergreen grow in the White Mountain National Forest. Many people prefer the balsam fir because of fragrance and needle retention. Others prefer the spruce because of the fullness of the branches and the classic shape. Keep in mind that a wild tree may not have the perfect appearance of a commercial tree. Be prepared to do some real searching. Somewhere out there is your ideal Christmas tree.
• Trees are for personal use only, not for resale. Each family may cut one tree per permit (one Christmas tree permit per family).
• Use only hand tools to cut Christmas trees. Chainsaws are not permitted.
• Make sure you are on National Forest land. Respect the rights of landowners when crossing private property.
• Do not cut trees in or near campgrounds, picnic areas, Experimental Forests, Wilderness, timber sale areas, or within 100 feet of a state highway. When you purchase the permit ask if there are any known "off limit" areas.
• Do not cut trees larger than 8 inches in diameter at chest height. Pack down limb piles low enough so they are within 2 feet of the ground. Scatter limbs and wood at least 25 feet away from roads, streams, hiking trails, and property boundaries.
• Cut your tree so remaining stumps will be less than 10 inches in height.
• Attach your tree tag after cutting and before transporting your tree.
Be prepared for winter — dress appropriately in warm clothing, and make your day a safe one!