When it comes to finding a Christmas tree, there are plenty of options: artificial trees, trees from lots in town or perhaps from a local tree farm.
Then there’s the wild option.
The U.S. Forest Service announced Wednesday that Christmas tree permits will soon be available for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Starting Nov. 16, visitors can buy Christmas tree cutting permits in person at Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and Cowlitz Valley ranger district offices and at many local vendors. Permits cost $5 each and can be purchased using cash, checks or credit cards. Online permits can be purchased now at Recreation.gov. Additional administrative fees will apply to all online sales.
“It is important to carefully read the overview and need-to-know information before purchasing the permit,” the Forest Service stated in a news release. “You will need to bring your printed permit with you onto the forest.”
There is a limit of five permits per household, and permits are valid for one-time use. Christmas tree permits include a map of areas that are closed to cutting and an information sheet with special instructions for cutting a tree in the national forest.
Households with fourth graders can get a Christmas tree cutting permit for free. After a Every Kid Outdoors pass online, fourth graders simply need to show their valid paper voucher or Every Kid Outdoors pass at a national forest office for their a Christmas tree permit. Fourth graders and their parents should visit everykidoutdoors.gov for more details and to obtain their paper voucher.
“To ensure a successful trip, make sure to plan and prepare,” the Forest Service stated. “Ranger district office and vendor hours may vary, so be sure to call ahead to check current operational hours. Be aware that winter weather in the forest can change rapidly and that most forest roads are not maintained for winter driving. Forest staff recommend bringing traction devices and a shovel, extra food, drinking water, winter clothing, blankets, a flashlight and a first aid kit. Don’t forget a tool for cutting the tree and a rope or cord to secure it to your vehicle. Tree cutting and travel may take longer than anticipated, so let a friend or family member know where you are going, get an early start, and leave the woods well before dark.”
For additional information and a video on successful tree harvesting, visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/gp/treepermit.
For more information on current road status and closures, visit www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/giffordpinchot/recreation#conditions.
This year, visitors can purchase Christmas tree permits at the following Forest Service offices and vendor locations:
• Mount Adams Ranger District, 2455 Highway 141, Trout Lake; 509-395-3400
• Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and District Office, 42218 N.E. Yale Bridge Road, Amboy; 360-449-7800
• Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, 10024 U.S. Highway 12, Randle; 360-497-1100
All Forest Service offices will be closed Thanksgiving Day Nov. 24, 2022.
Vendor Locations (Call for hours of operation and information):
Amboy — Chelatchie Prairie General Store — 360-247-5529
Ashford — Ashford General Store — 360-569-2377
Ashford — Ashford Valley Grocery — 360-569-2560
Carson — Wind River Market — 509-427-5565
Cougar — Lakeside Country Store — 360 238-5202
Cougar — Cougar Store — 360-238-5228
Cougar — Lone Fir Resort — 360-238-5210
Elbe — Elbe Mall — 360-569-2772
Home Valley — Home Valley Store — 509-427-4015
Kelso — Sportsman's Warehouse — 360-423-2600
Morton — Quicky Mart/Shell Gas Station — 360-496-5553
Packwood — Blanton’s Market — 360-494-6101
Randle — Fischer’s Market — 360-497-5355
Stevenson — Main St. Convenience Store (open 24 hours) — 509-427-5653
Trout Lake — Little Mountain (True Value) Hardware — 509-395-2773
Vancouver — Sportsman's Warehouse — 360-604-8000