If you're still bummed about having spent Thanksgiving alone and likely not being able to see your family on Christmas either, we suggest a little pick-me-up activity that is sure to lift your spirits: chopping down your own tree at a national forest. Did you not know you can actually do that? Indeed, you can—and here's how.
First of all, you'll need an actual Forest Service-issued permit to start on the chopping. Although not all parks allow you to harvest trees for personal firewood or Christmas tree use, a relatively hefty 88 of them do so make sure you check on your preferred destination's guidelines.
Some general tips to follow once you've secured your permit: the tree you pick has to be at least 200 feet away from main roads, recreation sites and campgrounds; make sure to select a tree that boasts a trunk that is six inches or less in diameter and do prepare to cut no more than six inches above ground level; all trees must be used at home and cannot be resold to the public; also don't forget to bring a rope and a tarp along to move your pal from the harvest area to your car.
Once again, do check out specific park guidelines to figure out how to secure a permit and how to go about the cutting after that. If interested in finding a tree at Tahoe National Forest in California, for example, you'll need to shell out $10 per cut for a permit, which you can buy online. At Ashley National Forest in Utah, the permit will cost you $15 per tree. At the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado, on the other hand, a "free use authorization" application will allow you to chop down trees at a nearby retail shop.
Given that, according to the USDA Forest Service, over 200,000 permits are sold on an yearly basis, do expect to see some pals with axes in hand while getting ready to cut down your own tree. Happy holidays, folks!
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