Christmas Tree Permits

Personal use Christmas tree cutting permits for 2020

Sales began Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. The permits can be purchased for $10 each, limited to one permit per household. The number of permits is limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Permits are good for this year only. 

It is important to note that not all national forests offer the opportunity to obtain Christmas trees for personal use, and each national forest has different sale dates. Please check with the national forest in which you are interested to learn about the specifics of their program. 

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no sales at Mendocino National Forest offices. Permits will only be available through the  mail or by one of the vendors listed below. To purchase a permit by mail, send a printed name and mailing address, for each permit purchased, a daytime telephone number, and a check or money order made out to "USDA Forest Service" for $10 for each permit to either the Willows, Stonyford, Upper Lake or Covelo offices with "Christmas Tree Permit" written on the outside of the envelope. Mail-in requests received after December 14 will not be filled. Please see the Mail Order Form. 

Persons must be at least 18 years old to purchase the permit. All Christmas tree permit sales are final; no refunds will be made. Christmas tree cutting will be allowed only in specific areas in the Mendocino National Forest. The permittee will receive a map of the forest and a tree tag. Permits may be used to cut a tree in any authorized area within the Mendocino National Forest. See the map here.

There is a limit of five permits total purchase if a person obtains permits for other families. You must have the name and address for each permit purchased. Permit holders who will be having another person cut their tree must provide a Third Party Authorization, which must be in the possession of the cutter.

Continued this year:
Federal and State quarantines designed to prevent the spread of Sudden Oak Death are in effect for Lake and Mendocino Counties. Any Christmas tree cut in Lake or Mendocino County can only be transported into a Sudden Oak Death quarantine county (Alameda, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Marin, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma).

Please call the location you plan to purchase your permit BEFORE you leave to check pricing, hours and availability.

Christmas tree permits are typically available from the following vendors. PLEASE CALL FOR PRICES, HOURS OF OPERATION AND AVAILABILITY.

Upper Lake Grocery
160 E. Hwy 20, Upper Lake

Keith's Family Foods
76201 Covelo Road, Covelo
707-983-6633 Hours: Seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To ensure that your visit to the Mendocino National Forest is an enjoyable experience, please follow these important tips:

  • Plan your trip - check the weather, bring plenty of warm clothes, water, emergency food, tire chains, shovel, a saw or axe to cut your tree, and a tarp and rope to bring it home. Make sure you have a full tank of gas when you leave and are prepared for changing conditions in the mountains! Also, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  • Keep vehicles on designated roads and be aware of changing weather and road conditions. Wet dirt roads can quickly turn to mud, making it possible to get stuck and causing damage to road, soil and water resources. If there are puddles in the road, mud flipping off the tires or you can see your ruts in the rearview mirror, consider pulling over and taking a hike to look for a tree, or turning around and finding a different area to cut your tree.
  • Cut your tree early in the season before favorite cutting areas can't be reached because of snow.
  • Make sure you are cutting a tree on the Mendocino National Forest and not from other federal, state or private lands.
  • Cut the tree as close as possible to the ground and leave as little of a stump as possible.
  • Attach the permit on the tree where it will be easily visible with the tree packed or tied on your vehicle for transport home.
  • To help keep your tree fresh, cut at least one inch off the base when you get home and stand the tree in a container of water in a cool, shaded area, checking the water level daily.

Christmas tree cutting in the National Forest is managed as a recreational experience. It is a chance to head out into the woods and cut a tree the old-fashioned way. For more information, call (530) 934-3316.