Christmas Tree Permits

Christmas Tree Cutting


Purchasing a Permit

Christmas Tree Permits are available from mid-November through the week prior to Christmas to cut down your own ponderosa pine, spruce, or juniper tree for the holiday season.

A permit is required for each tree you cut. Each permit costs $10 and can be purchased in person most area Forest Service offices, some private businesses, or by mail. NOTE: A maximum of 5 permits may be purchased per household. Make your check payable to "USDA Forest Service" and send it to the following address:

Black Hills National Forest
1019 North 5th Street
Custer, SD 57730

If you include a stamped return envelope, we will send your permit back.

Your tree permit is for personal use only and is not to be sold. All tree permits expire December 31 of the year purchased.  The Forest does not refund money for unused permits.

Each permit is accompanied by a handout with guidance about appropriate tree removal. Trees may not be cut in developed recreation sites, Forest Service administrative sites, active timber sales, the Black Hills Experimental Forest near Rochford, the Black Elk Wilderness, the Beaver Park area near Sturgis or within Spearfish Canyon.

The maximum allowable height of cut trees is 20 feet. Permits require that you cut the entire tree, leaving no more than six inches of stump, and that you cut unused branches so they lay flat on the ground.

The adhesive permit tag must be attached before a tree is removed from the cutting area; a citation can be issued for possession of a cut-but-untagged tree, even if a tag is available in person or in your vehicle.

Trees should be placed in water as soon as possible to help keep needles fresh. Once indoors, trees should be placed away from stoves, heaters, or heating ducts. After Christmas, used trees should be disposed of properly as yard waste. Do not dump used trees on national forest land.

Please note that Forest Service offices will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.  Private vendors (link below) may sell tags until December 24 (where open). 

2019 Christmas Tree Permit Vendors

Cutting a Christmas Tree Brochure

Spruce Tree Forest Map