Tips for cutting down a Christmas tree and care in Summit County |

Tips for cutting down a Christmas tree and care in Summit County

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Now that it is finally snowing and the feeling of the holidays has arrived, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District (FDRD) encourages you to come by and buy one, two — maybe five — Christmas tree permits. This year, a tree from the White River National Forest will be hosted at Rockefeller Center in New York City, and you, too, can have one.

Permits can be purchased at the Dillon Ranger District, 680 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne, open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. We are closed for lunch from 12:30–1:30 p.m.

This year, the areas in which you can cut have expanded and you might even be able to cut behind the house. When you come in to purchase a permit, a map of the Dillon Ranger District is provided, showing the designated areas available to cut your trees. $10 cash or check will buy you a tag to wrap around the bottom of the tree while transporting. Blue spruce are the only type of tree not to cut. Blue spruce have the 2-inch or longer upright pinecone and there are not too many growing in the county anyway. So come down to the Dillon Ranger District store across from Target in Silverthorne and enjoy a lasting memory.

Below are a list of tips the FDRD has compiled for choosing a Christmas tree and care. Enjoy your holiday but stay warm, wear layers and always let someone know where you plan to travel.


There are four types of trees that are legal to cut in Summit County: Subalpine fir, Douglas fir, Engelmann spruce and Lodgepole pine. It is prohibited to cut Colorado Blue Spruce.

Your Christmas tree must not exceed 15 feet in height.

You need to leave behind 6 inches or less diameter, as close to the ground as possible.

Trim any branches from the stump left behind.

Find groups of trees and select one of the smaller ones. You have now promoted this stand of trees to grow faster and healthier.

The best tools for the job are a small handsaw and a camp shovel.

Chainsaws are not permitted for cutting trees.

You may need to clear the snow from around the base of the tree. The ground is the base, not the surface of the snow.

Remember, trees are appropriately sized for your home at a Christmas tree lot. Out in the forest, the trees seem smaller in proportion to the landscape. Before you choose a tree, measure it first.

The best tree’s branches do not snap off; test lower branches.

To transport your tree, wrap with some type of covering like a blanket to minimize damage on the drive home, and remember to attach your Christmas tree permit to the base of your tree before transporting.

You cannot cut a tree in wilderness areas or proposed wilderness areas, recreational areas, ski areas, campgrounds and picnic areas, near lakes and streams, in wetlands, in active commercial logging sites or within 100 feet of main roads. Parking on the shoulder of Interstate 70 is also prohibited.

Remember when going into a snowy winter environment that falling trees are always a hazard. When traveling, be aware of your surroundings and avoid patches of dead trees, as they can fall without warning. Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds. If you are in the forest and the winds kick up, head to a clearing out of reach of any trees. Do not rely on cellphones for safety, as there are many places in the national forest that have little or no coverage. Remember, your safety is your responsibility.


Cut about 1 inch off the base and place immediately in water or the tree will seal and reject water. Regular tap water will do. Check the water several times a day for the first week and at least once a day until taking it down. Your tree will soak up 800 percent more water than when the tree was growing in the forest. Increase the humidity and block furnace outlets near the tree to prevent fire. Also, check your Christmas lights for any signs of fraying or damage.

Bring the wonderful smells and bounty of the forest into your home this season. Branches can also be used on windowsills and trellises, to make wreathes, as loose carpet for garden paths and for potpourri. And a tree keeps on giving — dry the trunk and use for firewood or garden stakes.

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