Time to get your tree
Christmas tree permits now available locally
BAKER CITY — For $5 and some manual labor, area families can soon bring home their Christmas trees.
Christmas tree permits for the Umatilla National Forest and Wallowa-Whitman national forests are now available at all forest offices and at several local businesses. Permits are valid on National Forest System lands only and do not authorize tree cutting on private, state or other federally managed lands.
The permits are good for one tree each. The maximum height for trees cut on the Wallowa-Whitman is 20 feet. The maximum is 14 feet on the Umatilla.
Forest Service Public Information officer Jodi Kramer said each permit sold will come with a Christmas tree brochure complete with all information needed for Christmas tree cutting.
Kramer said there aren’t any regulations on the species of tree cut, but there are some areas where trees cannot be cut. Those off-limit areas include the Baker City and La Grande watersheds and Anthony Lakes Ski Area.
“Most of it is the experience,” Kramer said. “They get to go out on their national forests. It’s mostly for the family experience, I think.”
Permits can be purchased for $5 and are limited to one per household. Christmas tree permits and forest maps are available during regular office hours, Monday through Friday at the four Umatilla Ranger District offices in Ukiah and Heppner and Walla Walla, Wash., and Pomeroy, Wash., and the five Wallowa-Whitman Ranger District Offices in Baker City, La Grande, Joseph, Clarkston and Halfway and the supervisor’s office in Pendleton. Permits will be available Dec. 9 at the Federal Building in Baker City after the Whitman District move is complete. Prior to the move, permits will be available at their current location on 11th Street.
Local businesses will be set up to sell Christmas tree permits by Friday and include the Burnt River Market in Unity, York’s Park Grocery in Baker City, O&M Gas & Grocery in Elgin, Wallowa Food City in Wallowa, Dollar Stretcher in Enterprise, The Sports Corral in Joseph, Halfway Market in Halfway, Hometown Hardware in Union, Island City Market and Deli, Bi-Mart in La Grande and the Hitching Post Grocery in Richland.
While forest maps are available, they do not identify the best places for Christmas trees. Kramer said those needing some guidance should contact their district forest office.
“The district office person is going to know the best location,” she said.
Regulations for cutting Christmas trees on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests:
• Christmas tree permits sell for $5 each and are limited to one permit per household.
• Validate the permit by completely removing month, date and year and securely attaching it to the tree trunk between the limbs
• Make sure the permit is visible during transportation.
• Cut your tree at least 50 feet away from the road.
• Clean up any trimmings or limbs and leave stumps no higher than 10 inches. It is illegal to “top” a tree.
• Cut off any green limbs left on the stump (can be used for greens).
• Maximum height of tree to be cut is 14 feet tall on the Umatilla NF and 20-feet tall on the Wallowa-Whitman NF.
• Do not cut on private land, in wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, active timber sales or existing tree plantations.
• Do not cut trees within 200 feet of Bluewood or Spout Springs ski areas, summer home sites, Tollgate Work Center or Forest Service guard stations.
• Christmas tree cutting in the Tollgate area on the Walla Walla Ranger District can be challenging after Dec. 1, when most forest roads close for the winter. After Dec. 1, snowmobiling or snowshoeing will be your only access onto most roads off Highway 204.
• Christmas tree cutting on the Pomeroy Ranger District is prohibited on Park and Cook ridges, and in the Lick Creek area, including Sheep Creek, Cabin, Capehorn and Mud Springs ridges. You may encounter road closures in the School Fire area during logging operations. Please abide by these closures.
• Do not cut trees in the following areas: Baker City Watershed, Anthony Lakes Campground or Ski Area, Starkey Experimental Forest, La Grande Watershed, Hurricane Creek and Lostine drainages.
• Do not cut trees in posted old growth areas or within a quarter mile of wild and scenic corridors.
• Christmas tree cutting within site distance of state highways is prohibited.
More helpful hints
Be safe, be prepared for winter weather
• Dress appropriately in warm socks, boots, coats, hats and gloves
• Bring plenty of snacks and water
• Have supplies available to build a fire if necessary
• Make sure your vehicle is equipped for winter travel
• Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be home
When cutting your tree
• Carry your trees carefully out of the woods. Dragging the tree will rub off needles and bark.
• If the tree is too big to transport in the trunk of your vehicle, wrap it in canvas to prevent wind damage.
• Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Replenish water frequently.
• Vending machines with maps and Christmas tree permits are available 24 hours at Forest Service offices in Baker City, Halfway, Joseph and La Grande. More information about Christmas tree cutting permits and road conditions can be obtained by calling local Forest Service offices and visiting the Forest Website at www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla and www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman