Supporting Scouts & Bettering Forest Health

Young Boy Scouts dragging Christmas trees through the snow

The Tahoe National Forest has partnered with local Boy Scout Troop 266 for the last 20 years to educate youth about forest health with a hands-on approach, getting kids in the woods–and into the holiday spirit–with a Christmas tree cutting expedition to remember.

Forest Service staff, led by Timber Management Officer Eric Burke, make arrangements each November to issue a permit and accompany the Scouts on a trip into the Forest to harvest Christmas trees from the Yuba River Ranger District. “It’s a great opportunity to educate our youth, and adults alike, about responsible land management and current forestry related issues. ‘Caring for the land and serving people’ is the Forest Service motto, and this activity encompasses the spirit of that,” says Burke.

Young BoySscouts loading Christmas trees onto a truck in the snow

Tree cutting day is a big event involving about 40 Venture Scouts, Boy Scouts, old Scouts and new Scouts, parents and community members, trailers, chain saws, and a hot lunch on site at the harvest location. Forest Service staff meet up with the Scout work party early in the morning to give a safety briefing and lead them to a site selected for thinning of smaller trees for forest health. It is a long 8-to-10-hour day, but it is many of the scouts’ and parents’ favorite activity of the year. The Tahoe National Forest employees find it fun and rewarding to take this day working with such an enthusiastic group of people.

Boy Scouts and parents standing around a truck in the snow, for a safety briefing

Claudia, a Scout mom who has been involved with the project for 5 years, says, “Troop 266 would like to give a huge thank you to everyone at the Tahoe National Forest who make this possible. We all have such fun, and it’s our biggest fundraiser of the year.”

Back in Tahoe City, Troop 266 Scouts and parents sell the Christmas trees to raise funds that support the troop’s operating costs and make it possible to offer a week-long summer camp, local camping trips in the Tahoe National Forest, and trips further afield to places like Bodega Bay or Yosemite National Park. 

For more information on the Tahoe National Forest, visit and check out the Boy Scouts of America at