Choosing a Christmas tree photo

Choosing and hand-cutting Christmas trees is a time-honored local tradition.

KAMIAH — With winter weather approaching and the holidays on the horizon, many families are looking forward to getting outdoors to find the perfect Christmas tree on their local public lands. The USDA Forest Service is selling Christmas tree cutting permits through Recreation.gov again this year, and permits for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are now available. Details about designated cutting areas, season dates, and types of trees that may be cut may be found online at https://bit.ly/NPCChristmasTrees.

“For every tree that is found, cut and carried home as a holiday fixture, a new story is created,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “These stories become the precious memories that create traditions worth carrying on for generations and further connect families with their local forests.”

To purchase a Christmas tree permit, first make sure to log in to or create a Recreation.gov account. Then, visit https://bit.ly/NPCChristmasTrees or search for “Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Christmas Trees” on the Recreation.gov website. Remember to carefully read the overview and need-to-know information prior to purchasing the permit. Christmas tree permits are free of charge; however, a small processing fee will be collected to cover the online transaction. Customers are limited to one permit each, and each permit is good for a maximum of three Christmas trees.

No special areas on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are designated for Christmas tree cutting. Please cut your tree at least 200 feet from well–traveled roads, flowing water, campgrounds, and recreation sites, and do not harvest within designated Wilderness areas or Wild and Scenic River corridors. Select your tree from thickets and overstocked areas and choose a tree that is the right size for your needs. Be aware of winter driving conditions while searching for your tree; pack tire chains, a first aid kid, and other emergency equipment. Dress in layers and bring plenty of food and water for the whole family.

Besides the joy it brings to families across the nation, harvesting a Christmas tree from a National Forest also improves forest health. The permit system helps to thin densely populated stands of small-diameter trees. Removing these trees helps other trees grow larger and can open areas that provide forage for wildlife.

If you have questions about harvesting a Christmas tree on the National Forests, please contact your local Forest Service office. Contact information and hours of operation for Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests offices is available online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nezperceclearwater/about-forest/offices.