Grab a Permit, Your Family and Gather Your Christmas Tree on Forest, 4th Graders Free Permits

Contact(s): Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan, 406-587-6735

Bozeman, MT - 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 across the Forest.  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.

“Heading out for your Christmas tree is a great family experience, I remember doing it when I was a kid and now we’re taking our toddler out, said Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan, Public Affairs Specialist, Custer Gallatin National Forest.  “This year, as part of Every Kid Outdoors, 4th graders across the Nation will get a free Christmas Tree permit.  First, just log onto and follow the quick steps to confirm you are a 4th grader then bring your pass to your local Christmas Tree vendor and grab a free permit to enjoy with your family.” 

Every Kid Outdoors is a partnership of federal agencies offering free access to hundreds of parks, lands, and waters for an entire year.  See America’s natural wonders and historic sites for free as a 4th grader.  Learn more at:

Local businesses opportunities include: 

Absarokee: Rockin J Gas Station                                              Belgrade:  Town & Country, Belgrade Ace Hardware

Big Timber Events:  Crazy Mountain Christmas (American Legion Bldg 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. November 29th & December 6 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Hometown Holiday Lighted Parade,  

Billings: Cabela’s & Ace Hardware (Heights)                            Bison:  Perkins County Conservation District   

Big Sky: Big Sky Conoco and Ace Hardware                             Bowman: Slope Soil Conservation Service

Bozeman:  Owenhouse Ace Hardware, (downtown & Huffine); Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply (both locations)

Buffalo:  Harding County Conservation District                         Ekalaka: Carter County Conservation District

Gardiner:  Gardiner Market                                                        Lemmon: Grand River Ranger District

Livingston:  Ace Hardware                                                         Red Lodge:  Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop

West Yellowstone:  Cenex Corner Store

Custer Gallatin National Forest Offices:

Ashland Ranger District:  406-784-2344                                         
Bozeman Ranger District:  406-522-2520
Beartooth Ranger District, Red Lodge:  406-446-2103                   
Gardiner Ranger District: 406-848-7375                          
Hebgen Lake Ranger District, West Yellowstone:  406-823-6961   
Sioux Ranger District, Camp Crook, SD:  605-797-4432
Yellowstone Ranger District Livingston:  406-222-1892                 
Billings Office:  406-255-1400

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

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