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Christmas tree hunting? Better move fast!

Northern Californians Prepare for Time-Honored Christmas Tree Harvesting Tradition

As the holiday season draws near, many Northern California families are gearing up for a cherished annual tradition: harvesting their own Christmas trees. In the upcoming weeks, permits for this festive activity will become available in various forests across the state.

One of the prominent locations offering these permits is the Eldorado National Forest, where eager tree hunters can purchase them online starting from October 28th. Additionally, for those who prefer an in-person experience, permit availability begins on November 4th.

Approximately 5,000 permits will be up for grabs this year. They tend to sell out rapidly, often selling out on the day they open up, often experiencing lines down the block.

Beyond being a beloved holiday tradition, this practice also plays a vital role in forest management. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the issuance of thousands of permits each year allows Californians to assist in thinning overcrowded forests, thereby reducing the risk of wildfires.

For those looking to secure permits within the Lake Tahoe Basin, they will be available for in-person purchase starting on November 6.

Once a permit is obtained, holders are permitted to select and cut down their pine, fir, or cedar tree of choice. However, it is essential for permit holders to come prepared with the necessary materials for harvesting, with handsaws being highly recommended.

Some restrictions apply to the types of trees that can be cut down, and these rules may vary from one forest to another. In the Lake Tahoe Basin, for instance, the diameter of the tree’s base should not exceed six inches.

In addition to the size restriction, the selected tree must be within 10 feet of another green tree. These requirements are in place to ensure that the removal of the harvested tree benefits the overall health of the forest.

Since permits will only be available for in-person purchase, the Lake Tahoe Basin area should have a steady supply. Nevertheless, the USFS advises those interested to check other forests for permit availability in case their preferred location runs out of permits. This way, everyone can partake in the beloved tradition of selecting and cutting down their very own Christmas tree while contributing to forest health and safety.