Harvest your Christmas tree on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

A close-up of lights and ornaments on a decorated Christmas tree.

A decorated Christmas tree at the United States Department of Agriculture Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 4, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Tanya Flores.

HELENA, Mont. (November 18, 2019) – Christmas tree permits are now available at Forest Service offices on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Permits cost five dollars and can be used to harvest a tree on public lands managed by the USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Each family can purchase up to three permits.

The Forest Service is happy to once again offer FREE Christmas tree permits to fourth graders through the Every Kid Outdoors program (formerly known as Every Kid in a Park). Fourth graders who have claimed their Every Kid Outdoors pass or paper voucher can visit a Forest Service office with a parent or guardian to receive their free Christmas tree permit. Free permits are available on a first–come, first–served basis while supplies last. Learn more about the program at www.everykidoutdoors.gov or call your local ranger station.

Please keep these helpful hints and specific restrictions in mind when harvesting your Christmas tree:

  • Remember to securely attach the permit to your tree.
  • Do not cut trees in active timber sale units, developed campgrounds and recreation sites, designated Wilderness areas, or within 100 feet of main roads, creeks, or streams.
  • When harvesting your tree, please do not leave any live branches on the stump, and trim the stump to no more than six inches above the ground.
  • Please select a tree shorter than 12 feet tall, and do not cut off the tops of trees.

Instructions and regulations will be included on the permit and in an accompanying brochure. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Forest Service staff when you pick up your permit, or call your local ranger station.

Forest visitors are encouraged to continue their holiday celebrations with two free, family–friendly events at Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest offices in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Montana Discovery Foundation and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest will be hosting the annual Holiday Nature Craft Night. The event will take place at the Helena Forest Service office (2880 Skyway Dr.) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Families can attend this event and enjoy creating their own holiday decorations out of the forest’s natural décor (pinecones, feathers, twigs, etc.). There will be multiple stations and a variety of crafts and activities for people of all ages. For more information, call the Helena Forest Service office at (406) 449-5201.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls welcomes one and all to the Trim the Tree event. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., families are invited for a cup of cocoa and a chance for their children to craft Christmas ornaments. Participants will craft an ornament for the Interpretive Center tree and two to take home with them. All supplies are provided. For more information, contact the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at (406) 727-8733.

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