Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

By Beacon Staff

Christmas tree permits from the Flathead National Forest are available for $5 each from Forest Service Offices in Kalispell, Hungry Horse and Bigfork, and from a variety of vendors across the valley. Each permit is valid for one tree and there is a maximum of three permits per household. Commercial permits are not available.

So, for an outdoor Christmas experience grab a permit and go…just remember these lessons from the Christmas classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when searching for your “perfect tree:” Bring a saw and don’t go too big.

Here’s some more guidelines from the Forest Service:

Please select a tree that is three to four inches in diameter or less at the stump. The stump should be cut as close to the ground as possible, 8” or shorter. Do not cut the top of a tree or leave live limbs attached to the stump; they will not grow into a tree and only take growing space from the remaining trees in the area. Choose a tree that is growing with other trees in a cluster. The forest environment benefits by thinning the clusters, allowing the remaining trees to grow bigger and provide for a healthier forest. Please do not cut any trees in campgrounds or developed recreation areas.

Before transporting your tree, please fasten the permit around the tree trunk. The Christmas tree permit is only for National Forest System lands. There are many other privately owned and industry owned lands in the Flathead Valley area that may not allow Christmas tree cutting, so please check the ownership of the land before you cut a Christmas tree.

For more information about cutting Christmas trees on the Flathead National Forest, please contact a local Forest Service Office:
Tally Lake District/Supervisor’s Office; 758-5208
Hungry Horse/Glacier View and Spotted Bear Districts; 387-3800
Swan Lake District; 837-7500

Vendors that sell Flathead National Forest Christmas Tree Permits include:
Snappy’s Sport Senter, Kalispell
Kelly Rae’s Conoco, Kalispell
Mike’s Conoco, Columbia Falls, Hungry Horse and Whitefish
Local Joes Gas & Grub (Conoco), Bigfork
Ronan Power Products, Ronan
Ronan Sports and Western, Ronan
Swan Ecosystem Center, Condon
Swan Lake Trading Post, Swan Lake
Swan Valley Centre, Condon
Brigg Mercantile, Olney