Christmas Tree Harvest

Christmas Tree permits go on sale every year in mid-November

Informational Brochure

Harvest Areas Map

Know Before You go:

• Take precautions before traveling on Forest roads, including checking current weather conditions. Call the local Forest office for the latest road information, or check the Current Conditions Table on our recreation Page below the map.

• Carry the appropriate safety items such as tire chains, shovel, food and water, and extra warm clothes. Visitors are reminded that they travel at their own risk on Forest roads, and cell phone coverage does not exist in much of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
• Remember, a permit does not guarantee you will find a suitable tree. There are no refunds.

Future of the Christmas Tree Program
The Forest has offered this program for decades. This tradition has long been enjoyed by the public and employees. The GPNF has provided a variety of both planted and natural tree species from which to choose, most of which are a product of former harvest areas that have been reforested. Today, the trees found in old harvest areas are quickly growing beyond suitable Christmas Tree size. While we continue to work at offering a Christmas Tree Program on the GPNF, the number of trees available will likely decline over the next decade. Since 2005 the Forest Christmas Tree program has been part of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Under this act the Forest retains a portion of Christmas Tree Permit receipts. The Forest will be reviewing ways of using these funds to enhance the Forest Christmas Tree Program.

Safety Tips

  • Be Prepared For Winter Weather Conditions!
    Winter weather conditions can change rapidly in the Pacific Cascade Range. Be prepared for any type of weather before you set out.
     
  • Arrive Early At Your Cutting Area.
    The sun sets very early compared to summer. It may take longer than you think to find that one special tree. Do what you can to avoid driving home in the dark, but don't hurry. Your safety is most important.
     
  • Carry Your Winter Safety Gear.
    Carry tire chains, shovel, flashlights, and blankets in your vehicle. You might to even consider food and drink. Most National Forest roads are not maintained or snowplowed during the winter.
     
  • Dress Appropriately!
    Wear proper winter clothing and carry extras in case you get wet. You might be warm, dry and comfortable when you start, but you may be tired and cold as the day wears on. Consider an extra jacket, mittens or gloves, hat and scarf to carry in your vehicle.
     
  • Drive Safely And Slowly.
    Turn on your lights when driving on national forest roads, even if the sun is shining. You might be able to see perfectly well but can others see you? Also, watch for snow and ice. Most National Forest roads are not maintained or snowplowed during the winter.
     
  • Tell Someone You Will Be Gone.
    Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. If you have a cellular phone consider bringing with you. Make sure the battery is fully charged. Most important - your cell phone signal will not work in most areas of the national forest!
     
  • Watch Your Step!
    Steep terrain and deep snow make walking difficult. Take your time and watch your step.
     
  • Be Careful With Your Tools.
    Your ax or saw are sharp. Be careful. Do you have a first aid kit in your car as well?
     
  • You Are Not The Only One On The Road.
    Park your vehicle on road shoulder or in turnouts. Do not block the roadway.

Tree Cutting Instructions

  • Cut one tree per permit.  Five permits per household maximum.
  • Select trees not more than twelve (12) feet tall.
  • Tree topping is prohibited.
  • Cut the tree twelve (12) inches or less above the ground level. Remove snow around tree base if needed. Cut off live limbs remaining on the stump.
  • To make your trip back to the car easier, slide your tree on a plastic tarp.
  • Upon return to your vehicle, punch out month, day, and year on permit. Immediately attach securely to your freshly cut tree where it will be clearly visible.
  • Christmas Tree cutting maps: Southern GP, Mount St. Helens, Cowlitz map 1, Cowlitz map 2, Mt. Adams map 1, Mt. Adams map 2

Special Instructions

  • Contact the nearest Ranger District for the latest Forest closures or restrictions.
  • A Christmas tree permit is for your personal use only. The use of a personal Christmas Tree Cutting Permit for any other purpose is prohibited.
  • A violation of the personal tree cutting permit can result in fines up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.
  • There is a limit of five personal permits per person.
  • Christmas tree permits are not refundable for any reason.
  • Tree cutting is prohibited in congressionally designated Wilderness Areas, the congressionally designated Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, experimental forests, developed campgrounds, administrative sites, within 300 feet of streams, on private or state owned lands within national forest boundaries, and in any other posted area.
  • Gifford Pinchot National Forest Christmas tree permits are not valid on other land ownerships. Cutting on private lands is subject to trespass action.
  • If unsure about areas available for tree cutting, contact the nearest Ranger District office or a Forest Service Officer in the field. Sno-Park permits are required when parking in a designated Sno-Park area and Northwest Forest Passes are required at designated trailheads.

Keeping Your Tree Fresh

  • Make A Fresh Cut - When you get your tree home, make a fresh cut on the butt to open up the pores which have been clogged by sap. Cut off at least one-half inch. The fresh-cut surface should be creamy-white, not yellow or brown. If you do not make a fresh cut, the tree will not be able to drink water. After the cut is made, put the tree in water as soon as possible. Even if a hole is drilled to accommodate a pin-type stand, a fresh cut should also be made on the butt.
     
  • Put Your Tree In Water - Place the tree in a sturdy stand which will hold at least one gallon of water per day. Fill with plain water. If the tree is not going into the house right away, it should be stored in a bucket of water on a cool porch or patio away from wind or sun.
     
  • Water Daily - An average tree may consume between a quart and a gallon of water per day. If the water level drops below the cut end of the trunk, a seal will form and no more water will be absorbed by the tree.
     
  • Mini-Lights Produce Minimum Heat - Miniature lights produce much less heat and reduce the drying effect upon the tree. Always check light sets for frayed or cracked wire insulation and broken sockets before placing them on a tree. Do not attempt to repair a worn light set. Throw it away and buy a new set. Always turn off the lights of your tree when leaving the house or retiring for the night.
     
  • Keep Away From Heat Sources - Place the tree away from heat sources such as heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves and fireplace inserts, radiators, television sets or sunny windows. It would not hurt to have a fire extinguisher (Class C) nearby.
     
  • Remove the Tree Promptly - After Christmas, before the tree dries, remove it from the house for pick up by your disposal service or for your local chipping and compost program. Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.

Where To Buy Your Tree Permit

Permit Sales on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest will begin on Friday, To be Determined, at the following Forest locations:

Sales are by Cash or Check ONLY at Forest Service offices.

  • Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters - Vancouver, WA
  • Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters - Amboy, WA
  • Cowlitz Valley Ranger District Office - Randle, WA
  • Mt. Adams Ranger District Office - Trout Lake, WA

For other vendor locations, please check with your local Forest Service office.