You Can Get a Super Cheap Christmas Tree From the Government

Photo:  sockagphoto (Shutterstock)
Photo: sockagphoto (Shutterstock)

Cutting down your own Christmas tree is often illegal, but the USDA Forest Service is all for it—so long as you go through the right channels. This month you can purchase a Forest Service-issued permit for cutting your own tree, so long as you follow specific guidelines (which can vary from forest to forest). Before you grab your axe and head into the woods this holiday season, here’s what you need to know about the tree-cutting permit program.

Get a permit to cut your own holiday tree

The USDA Forest Service sells Christmas Tree permits through Recreation.gov. Prices range from $5 to $20, depending on the location of the forest. To buy your permit in advance and find your local participating forest, use this site. The site also includes tips and guidelines for the cutting area you’ll need to review before you start choppin’ down your tree.

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Again: You can only cut down trees located in designated and approved areas in the forest. This permit program is run by the USDA Forest Service, which is not the same thing as U.S. National Parks. If you’re unsure whether you’re allowed to snag a tree in a certain area, visit this page on Recreation.gov and type in either the name of your state, or the name of the forest you have in mind.

How cutting your own tree helps the forest

According to Recreation.gov, cutting down and carrying out your own holiday tree helps contribute to good overall forest health. Through this permit program, you’ll be helping to thin densely populated stands of small-diameter trees. Removing the trees already designated by the Forest Service allows other trees to grow bigger and stronger. Plus, you’ll get the pride and satisfaction of chopping down the perfect Christmas tree for your home. It’s a true win-win.

Permits do sell out, so make sure to purchase yours before the busy holiday season commences.


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