PSICC Christmas Tree Sales

Father and child walk into the forest with an axe.

 

Start a Tradition in 2020

 

The Pikes Peak, South Platte, South Park, Leadville, Salida and San Carlos Ranger Districts on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands offer the opportunity for forest visitors to continue a tradition or start a new one by moving all holiday tree permit sales online through Recreation.gov for the 2020 holiday tree permit season. Online sales start October 15.

Be sure of the area you are purchasing a permit for. Each permit has a unique number associated with it so permits purchased through the Recreation.gov website must be printed to be valid. Visitors will need to display the printed permit on the dash of their vehicle on the day they visit the forest to cut their tree.

Visitors must establish a Recreation.gov account to purchase a permit and may access their permit through their account at any time.There is a reservation fee of $2.50 for permits sold to customers for the reservation service and support from the Recreation.gov system and staff. The funds from Christmas tree permits purchased through the Recreation.gov system will go back to the participating Forest through Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) funding requirements.

Fourth-grade students with an Every Kid Outdoors pass can apply for a free Christmas Tree permit through the online system with Recreation.gov by selecting the option and then entering their voucher or pass number when prompted.

Forest health is important, by removing these smaller trees you are contributing to the overall wellbeing of the forest and reducing fire danger. Persons cutting or removing trees from the National Forest without a valid permit are subject to a fine of up to $5000 and/or 6 months imprisonment.

 

Maps:

South Platte - Online sales only - Weekend Permits SOLD OUT except Buffalo Creek area 12/12 

Weekday Permits still available for Buffalo Creek and Sugar Creek Areas

$20 per permit: Limit 5 permits per household

            Buffalo Creek - This area is located southeast of Pine Junction on County Highway 126 and FDR 550. From Denver: Take US Hwy 285 south to Pine Valley Road (County Road 126). Turn south onto Pine Valley Road for about 12 miles. FDR 550 will be on the right-hand side.

            Sugar Creek – This area is located along County Road 67, approximately 1.5 miles south of County Road 40/Sprucewood junction. This area is best accessed from US Hwy 85 in Sedalia, CO. No camping allowed

            Camp Fikes - This area is located to the west of the Buffalo Creek tree cutting area. Follow the directions to the Buffalo Creek tree cutting area. Turn onto FDR 550 and continue to stay on the road for approximately 8 miles. This area may be difficult to impossible to access after heavy snow.

 

South Park - October 15 - December 31 - Online, Mail-in, In-person

$20 per permit: Limit 5 permits per household

Christmas Tree cutting is allowed throughout the South Park Ranger District except in a few restricted areas. Please print a map for the area you will be visiting. Also, there are maps of suggested areas based on tree species, accessibility and size, available. 

Alma Como Bores Lake George Packer Gulch Turner Gulch
Crooked Beaver Eagle Rock Lost Creek-N. Fork Ranger Station Warm Springs
Blue Mountain Fourmile-Thompson Lost Creek-West Rock Creek Hills Christmas Tree Locator
Bordenville Jefferson Michigan Creek Salt Creek Mail in Permit

 

Pikes Peak - November 27-December 16 - Online only

$20 per permit: Limit 5 permits per household

*PLEASE DO NOT CUT TREES IN THE RAMPART RANGE AREA-THE ROAD IS NOW CLOSED FOR THE SEASON*

Trees may be cut any time after purchase of permit from Friday, November 27th through Wednesday, December 16th. Trees may be cut on National Forest System lands northwest of Woodland Park, Colorado in the North Divide area and northwest of Woodland Park off Forest Service Roads 339 and 342. Be sure to print the map when you purchase your permit and use it to navigate to the tree cutting areas. Signs will be posted.

 

San Carlos - November 20 thru December 24 - Online or Mail-in Only

$10 per permit: Limit of 2 permits per household

For mail-in permit requests please mail a check or money order payable to "USDA Forest Service" along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to: ATTN: Christmas Tree Permit, San Carlos Ranger District, 3028 E. Main St., Canon City, CO 81212

Christmas tree cutting is allowed throughout the San Carlos Ranger District except at campgrounds, trailheads, ski areas, wilderness areas and the recreation area around Lake Isabel.

 

Leadville

$10 per permit: Limit of 2 permits per household

Christmas tree cutting is allowed throughout the Leadville Ranger District except at campgrounds, trailheads, ski areas, wilderness areas, and the recreation area near Turquoise Lake.

 

Salida

$10 per permit: Limit of 2 permits per household

Christmas tree cutting is allowed throughout the Salida Ranger District except at campgrounds, trailheads, ski areas, wilderness areas, and recreation areas.

 

Tree Cutting Tips

  • No Chainsaws, please use a handsaw.
  • Be prepared for weather and road conditions that might make travel difficult. Roads may be icy, snowy and may not be plowed regularly. We recommend you carry chains and use a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle.
  • Many roads have seasonal closures that take effect annually on December 1 or may close because of winter conditions. Check with the local Forest Service office if you are unsure of seasonal closures.
  • In some areas forest visitors may use a snowmobile, skis or snowshoes to harvest a tree, please check with the Forest Service office for any restrictions. Please do not tear up the road surface or leave debris on the road by traveling beyond plowed sections.
  • Dress warmly because the weather can change suddenly.
  • Have a full tank of gas.
  • Holiday tree cutters with permits purchased from www.recreation.gov/tree-permits/psicc can park in a safe location within one car length to the side of a road in the tree cutting area.
  • Pack out your trash.
  • Do not trespass on private property.
  • Leave pets at home or have them leashed at all times.
  • Bring a rope and tarp to haul your tree home.
  • It gets dark by 4:30 p.m. so plan your visit to allow plenty of daylight to find and cut your tree.
  • Be aware of the areas that are approved for tree-cutting, which are designated on the map for the tree cutting area you reserved. (See link above.)
  • Permits will not be transferred or replaced if stolen, lost or damaged.
  • Permits are only valid for the forest and district from which they were purchased.
  • You must cut trees as close to the ground as possible. Leave no stumps more than 6 inches high.
  • You may only take trees that are less than 6 inches across at ground level and less than 15 feet tall.
  • The entire tree must be removed from the forest, including all branches and stem wood.
  • Do not cut trees marked with signs, paint or flagging.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When will I be able to purchase a Christmas tree permit from my local forest?

A: Online sales for the South Platte and South Park Ranger Districts will begin on October 15, 2020. Online sales for the San Carlos, Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts will begin November 20, 2020. Forest visitors may contact the South Park Ranger District office to arrange in-person purchases beginning around Thanksgiving. The Pikes Peak Ranger District will offer online sales beginning November 27, 2020.

Q: Will permits sell out in my area?

A: Permits on the South Park and South Platte Ranger Districts tend to sell out quickly. The Pikes Peak, San Carlos, Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts will not sell out of permits.

Q: How will I know where I can go to cut a Christmas tree once I have a permit?

A: Maps are available for download at the links above that show the areas where tree cutting is available on any of our districts offering tree permits. The tree you choose must be at least 200 feet away from main roads, recreation sites and campgrounds, and away from areas along the sides of streams, rivers, lakes, and wet areas.

Q: How do I purchase a Christmas Tree permit through Recreation.gov?

A: You must have an account on Recreation.gov to purchase a Christmas Tree permit, so the first step is to either set up an account or log-in to your existing account. Find the PSICC through Search or here. Once you are on the permit page of your choice, follow the prompts. Please carefully review and verify that you have read the Need-to-Know information prior to making your purchase.

If you need more help, there is a detailed step-by-step article in the Help Center.

Q. Do I have to purchase a permit for a specific cutting day?

A. It depends on the District. For the South Platte, yes, weekday permits are available to cut on any day of the week excluding the weekends. Weekend permits must only be used on the specific weekend date that is listed on your permit.

Q: How do I get help if I am having trouble purchasing a permit?

A: We encourage visitors to try the Help Center where they will find a library of articles to assist them with a variety of issues, including setting up an account and purchasing Christmas Tree permits.

There is also a Recreation.gov Contact Center staffed with Customer Service Agents available to assist visitors through chat, email or over the phone seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. (ET).

Q: How do I access my permit after I purchase it?

A: Visitors can access permits from within their account anytime. They will also receive follow-up emails with important Need-to-Know information. They can then print their permit at their convenience prior to their visit.

Q: How do I display my permit on the day we cut our tree?

A: Visitors are required to print their permit and display it on the dash of their vehicle. Each permit is issued a unique number for verification purposes.

Q: We have a fourth grader with an Every Kid Outdoors pass. How can we apply that pass for a free Christmas tree permit in the Recreation.gov system?

A: Fourth graders with an Every Kid Outdoors pass are eligible and welcome to apply for a free permit through their local forest. Once you select your local forest, check the box and then follow the prompt to apply the Every Kid Outdoors pass voucher or pass number. A $2.50 fee will be assessed for online permits through Recreation.gov.

Q. What kind of tree makes the best holiday tree?

A. Options vary on what tree is best. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Ponderosa Pine: Makes a fine holiday tree, however their needles are very long, and the cones have sharp bristles. Ponderosa Pines have strong branches that do not bend under the weight of heavier decorations.
  • Douglas-Fir: Very good, best option due to their soft and silky needles. Traditional holiday tree shape and abundant. Douglas-firs have small branches and are best suited for smaller, light weight decorations.
  • Lodgepole Pine: Also, a fine tree, but hard to find in the Buffalo Creek area.
  • Spruce: (Engelmann and Colorado Blue) are prized as beautiful holiday trees; however, spruces have sharp pointed needles that some people find objectionable (and painful!). Spruce trees are not abundant and difficult to find in all the cutting areas.
  • Rocky Mountain Juniper: Juniper trees can be found all over the area but have weak branches and a pungent odor that some find objectionable.
  • White Fir:
  • Engleman Spruce:
  • Pinon Pine:

Q. What if I want to cut a very big tree?

A. Tree size in all cutting areas is limited to trees that are less than 6” in diameter at ground level and no more than 15 feet tall. Individuals cutting trees larger than 6” in diameter and/or more than 15 feet tall may be issued a Federal Petty Offence Violation Notice subject to up to 6 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Q. Why do I need to remove the entire tree when the Forest Service has left all the limbs and branches from the trees that were cut for the forest management projects?

A. The Forest Service will have the contractors stacking and piling limbs and branches.  After the limbs and branches have dried out, the forest service will be burning the piles of limbs and branches. Holiday tree cutters will be cutting scattered trees throughout the area where the limbs and branches cannot be piled for later burning. To reduce the fire hazard from the scattered holiday trees, individuals cutting trees are required to remove the entire tree, including all limbs, branches and stem wood.

Q. I’ve been in the holiday tree cutting area and I see that the Forest Service has been doing a lot of hazardous fuels reduction work. Is this work impacting the holiday tree cutting area?

A. The trees that have been cut for the hazardous fuels reduction work are not holiday tree size and shape. Many of the trees that have been left will grow into very nice holiday trees over the next few years. By thinning the forest, many new trees will sprout providing a holiday tree crop for many years to come. Many areas have had fuels reduction projects completed in the past with very little impact to the holiday tree cutting area. However, those parts of the holiday tree cutting area that have had fuels reduction projects completed in the last year may contain trees, limbs, and branches scattered all over the ground that may be difficult to see in the snow. Holiday tree cutters are advised to use caution when entering in and walking through these areas.

Q. Will Smokey be at the tree cutting area?

A. Smokey plans on being in the tree cutting area on the South Platte Ranger District for a limited time during the weekends and will follow strict social distancing guidelines.





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