Holiday Tree Permits go on Sale Nov. 1; Permits Free to Fourth Graders

Christmas Tree Cutting InfoWenatchee — The lovely fall leaves are carpeting the forest floor and snow now covers some mountain peaks heralding the passing of the fall season. Along with these seasonal changes comes the opportunity for families to purchase Christmas tree permits from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Permits go on sale for $5 starting November 1. Free permits are available to fourth graders as part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative. Fourth graders with a valid Every Kid in a Park pass can get one free holiday tree cutting permit from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

In order for students to receive a free tree permit, they must present a valid paper voucher printed from the Every Kid in a Park website. Here are the steps to obtain a paper voucher.

  1. Visit and follow instructions to obtain the paper voucher. 
  2. Print out the paper voucher.
  3. Bring the paper voucher with you to a National Forest office to claim the free permit. 

If you are not a fourth grader you will need to purchase a tree permit. Each permit allows a family to cut one tree, with a tree height limit of 15 feet, or dig a small live transplant tree. Permits may be purchased in person or by mail and are limited to two permits per family. The permits are non-refundable and are only good on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

The Christmas tree permit must be validated and securely attached to the tree trunk between the limbs and be visible during transportation. Christmas trees cannot be harvested in Wilderness areas, campgrounds, developed recreation areas, or tree plantations.

When venturing out into the national forest in pursuit of a Christmas tree, following are some suggestions to make the trip a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Before leaving home, notify a friend or family member of the planned route of travel and expected return time. Stick to the plan and be sure to contact that individual upon returning home.
  • Check road conditions and area closures with local ranger district offices as some recently burned areas are closed to public entry
  • Consider carefully clothing, equipment and vehicle needs, making certain they are adequate for the worst conditions that might be encountered. If planning to drive over snow-covered roads, a high-clearance vehicle may be best, and don’t forget to carry tire chains and a shovel.         
  • Once snow starts to build up, always check the avalanche hazard before leaving home
  • Leave early in the day to allow for maximum daylight.
  • Be familiar with the area where Christmas tree cutting will occur.
  • Carry extra clothing, food and tools for those unexpected mishaps that may happen.
  • An Every Kid in a Park Pass or the Northwest Forest Pass may be used at trailheads requiring a fee. However, once enough snow accumulates and selected trailhead parking areas convert to sno-parks, a valid Washington State Sno-Park permit must be displayed on the vehicle windshield when parking at any State Sno-Park.

Permits are available at all Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest ranger district offices and the forest headquarters in Wenatchee. Most forest offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; be aware, the Cle Elum office closes at 4 p.m.

For those who can't make it into national forest offices, many local businesses will also be selling Christmas tree permits starting mid-November. Check the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Christmas Tree Information page for a list of vendors.

Kid with christmas tree

A child dragging a small Christmas tree behind him through a snowy forest. Photo Credit: USDA

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