MISSOULA - This year because of the pandemic getting a Christmas tree cutting permit is easier than ever because now they're available online and for outdoor pickup at a variety of locations.
If you're interested in the virtual route, Christmas tree cutting permits can be found at www.recreation.gov and you can select which national forest you plan to get your tree from. Visitors will also need to set up or log in to a recreation.gov account and there is a small transaction fee of $2.50.
Free permits are also available outside of the Lolo Range District, the Missoula Cabela's, Murdoch's, Bob Ward's and the Clinton Market.
It is also important to be fully prepared before heading into the great outdoors to find the perfect Christmas tree. The Forest Service wants to remind people to make sure they are dressed for the winter elements and have sufficient supplies with you. Some other gear that will help with the tree cutting process include a measuring tape, a hand saw, gloves, a tarp, and rope or straps to secure your tree to your car.
"We always like to advise folks to know before you go, make sure to check the weather, there's some variable road conditions out there and just come prepared for the elements before you head out to get your tree," said Kate Jerman, public affairs officer for the Lolo National Forest.
This year families are allowed up to three trees and the Forest Service asks that you display your permit on the dash of whatever vehicle you are driving. It is also important to remember that tree cutting is not allowed within developed recreation areas or campgrounds like the Blue Mountain Recreation area or the Rattlesnake Recreation area. The Forest Service also asks that people do not cut the tops off of trees or cut down trees that are taller than 12 feet.