New options exist for purchasing Christmas tree permits this year | SummitDaily.com

New options exist for purchasing Christmas tree permits this year

Emily Bruyn
Guest Columnist

It's that time of year again, and there's nothing quite like cutting down your very own Christmas tree to get you into the holiday spirit. However, please don't attempt to take things into your own hands, as there are rules, guidelines and tips to cutting and preserving the perfect tree for you and your family.

First things first, you will need to buy a $10 Christmas tree permit from the U.S. Forest Service to cut down your tree. You can purchase your permit at the Dillon Ranger District station, located at 680 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne (across the street from Target). Permits will be available for purchase from now until Friday, Dec. 22, and the station is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Can't get to the station on a weekday? No problem. New this year, Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply located at 1241 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne will also be selling Christmas tree permits starting Nov. 24 until Dec. 22. Murdoch's is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you are unable to get to either the Dillon Ranger District station or Murdoch's before Dec. 22, fear not. You may also go online and print a Christmas tree permit form to fill out and mail in with a check. You will then receive your permit in the mail. To do so please visit: bit.ly/WRNFtreepermit

After securing your permit, it's time to head out into the woods — but where? There are important guidelines to follow when selecting the location to cut your tree down. Please do NOT cut your tree down in any of the following areas:

• Any Wilderness Area or proposed Wilderness Area

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• Within 100 feet of main roads

• Developed Recreation Areas

• Campgrounds

• Ski Areas

• Commercial Timber Sales where active logging is occurring

Maps of appropriate areas to cut down your tree are available at the Dillon Ranger District, as well as online at: bit.ly/WRNFtreepermit

Now, to pick your perfect tree. Try to find a group of trees and select one from the group. Do not cut single trees in forest openings, as these trees will be our future forest. Typical Christmas tree species include evergreens, spruces, and firs; however, the Forest Service asks that you avoid cutting down our official state tree, the Colorado blue spruce. Blue spruce needles grow individually rather than in clusters like pines, and are sharply pointed and round. If you pluck a needle from a blue spruce, it will be easy to roll between your fingers. Fir needles are flatter, less pointy and can't be rolled between your fingers; and these (as well as pines) are safe to cut down. Make sure the tree you pick is no taller than 15 feet, and the stump is 6 inches or less in diameter. Please note that cutting the top off a large tree is prohibited.

The best tool to bring to cut your tree is a small hand or camp saw. Once you've chosen your tree, cut the trunk as close to the ground as possible, leaving a stump height of 6 inches or less. Attach your permit to the trunk of your tree before transporting.

If you will be driving your tree home on top of your vehicle, horticulturists suggest wrapping your tree in an old blanket to minimize wind damage.

Finally, when setting up your tree in your home, cut the base of the stump again to enable the tree to take up more water and drop fewer needles.

If there's anything that says "holiday spirit" more than cutting down your Christmas tree, it's the gift of giving. If you are interested in giving back to the trails and forest you love this giving season, please consider scheduling a Colorado Gives Day donation to Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, and helping us reach our $25,000 goal. Donors may schedule their gift at any time up until the event on Dec. 5.

Funds will be used to improve our trails, preserve the health of our forest, and educate visitors, the community and local youth. Schedule your donation today at: bit.ly/fdrdco