Tips For Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree in SW Montana
It’s the time of year for Christmas tree permits again.
The Custer Gallatin National Forest now has Christmas tree permits available at all seven Ranger Districts and at numerous local businesses.
Forest Service offices will have permits available for purchase during regular business hours 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday for $5.00 each (limit 3 per household). Cash, check or debit/credit card are accepted at each location.
You can purchase your Christmas tree permits at the following local businesses:
- Owenhouse Ace Hardware (Downtown & Huffine)
- Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply (Both locations)
- Belgrade Ace Hardware
- Town & Country Foods
- Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop
- Ace Hardware
Those with a permit may cut a Christmas tree anywhere on the Custer Gallatin National Forest; except in designated wilderness areas, developed recreation sites including campgrounds and trailheads, posted timber sale units, recently planted locations and administrative sites.
Permits are also valid for any national forest in the Northern Region, which includes all of Montana, northern Idaho and portions of North and South Dakota. General guidelines for cutting a tree include the following:
- No tree cutting is allowed within 100 feet of any stream, lake, main road or recreation sites.
- Only cut trees 12 feet tall or less.
- Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible and below the lowest live limb. A remaining stump height of 6 inches or less is ideal.
- After cutting your tree, attach the purchased permit to a lower limb near the trunk for transporting home.
- "Topping" trees, or cutting the top off trees, deforms any future growth and leaves a visual eyesore. Take the entire tree or choose another one.
- Trees help protect watersheds, provide habitat for wildlife, and contribute to beautiful scenery. Keep these values in mind when selecting a tree.
A permit can also be purchased for gathering personal-use boughs. Permits, maps, forest road access updates and tree species identification guides are available at each ranger district office. Many district roads remain open until December 1, however given seasonal conditions it is always prudent to call your local ranger district prior to heading out. When preparing for the day, dress in layers for changing weather conditions, grab a snack and water, always let another know where you are headed and enjoy spending time outdoors with friends and family. For more information, please contact any Custer Gallatin National Forest office or for general forest information visit online at www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin.
Bozeman Ranger District: 406-522-2520