HELENA — With the Thanksgiving weekend behind us many are looking forward to Christmas and have already started decorating for the season. For many that means finding the perfect tree.
According to Consumer Reports, the average price for a Christmas tree in the US in 2020 was $81. This holiday season, you can keep your cash if you have a car, a saw, and a permit.
The Helena-Lewis and Clark County National Forest is once again providing free permits for those who would like to chop down their own Christmas tree this year. The permits allow for three trees to be cut down in designated areas.
This can be a fun opportunity for a family outing, but, as always, it’s important to put safety first, says Recreation Manager Rory Glueckert. Cell service may be unavailable in the forest, so it’s important to bring along maps, winter supplies, and let someone know where you’ll be gone to and when to expect you back.
Chiara Cipriano wants to remind folks to have a plan before they head out as there are certain restrictions as to where you can cut, even within a national forest.
“You can go to any National Forest in Montana but you cannot, you know, cut in wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, you know, any timber sale areas. So, that's where it kind of helps to, you know, have a plan,” says Cipriano.
This program not only allows you to get the perfect Christmas tree, but it also assists in maintaining the growth of the forest by keeping it less dense, thus preventing the spread of wildfires and allowing for older trees to thrive.
While the permits are free when picked up in person, if you would like to order them online there is a $2.50 charge. The permits are free to pick up at any 9 of their ranger district offices. The districts ask that you call in advance to arrange for pick-up.
If you’d like more information, head on over to Recreation.gov and search “Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Christmas Tree Permit.”