National Forests Christmas tree permit sales begin

Christmas tree permit sales for Payette, Boise National Forests begin Nov. 20.

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MCCALL — The Payette National Forest announced in a press release vendors will begin selling Christmas tree permits Saturday, Nov. 20. On Monday, Nov. 22, permits will be available at Forest Service offices via curbside service. Online purchase of permits began on Oct. 14. All permits are valid Nov. 20 to Dec. 31.

Again, this year, Christmas tree permits will be available for purchase online at recreation.gov. When purchasing online, be certain to specifically purchase a permit for the Payette National Forest as permits purchased online for other Forests are not valid on the Payette. Permits purchased online are $10 and an additional $2.50 service fee, then printed by the purchaser at the time of purchase (printer access is required). On-line permit website: bit.ly/3mWFIJE.

Permits remain available locally as well at our vendors (see attached list) — and by calling our local Forest Service offices, paying via credit card/debit card, then curbside pickup (phone numbers attached). Each permit allows one tree to be cut, with a limit of three permits per family. The cost of a permit purchased locally is $10. Locally purchased permits are valid on both the Payette and Boise National Forest — one permit works for both Forests.

All purchasers are provided with information about where a Christmas tree may be harvested, restrictions and helpful tips. A Christmas Tree Permit is for personal use only and use of permits for commercial purposes is prohibited. Permits are non-refundable and the purchaser must be at least 18 years in age.

In coordination with the “Every Kid Outdoors” program, fourth-graders who are participating in the Every Kid Outdoors program can receive a free Christmas tree Permit. The U.S. Forest Service is among several federal agencies that support the Every Kid Outdoors initiative which is a nationwide call to action to build the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The initiative provides a free pass to all fourth-grade students who first go to everykidoutdoors.gov and complete the application process for a pass, print the pass and call a Forest Service office for curbside service. If utilizing the online system at recreation.gov, enter the pass number when prompted.

Commercial vendors will not be issuing a free Christmas tree permit to participants of the Every Kid Outdoors program, and free Christmas tree permits cannot be sent through the mail or electronically. Participation in the Every Kid Outdoors program also offers benefits at National Parks and on other public lands and facilities across the United States.

Harvesting a Christmas tree is a fun adventure and often a traditional family event. Please review the Christmas tree brochure and map online for optimal areas and be fully prepared for winter travel.

If an unusually heavy snowfall occurs and forest roads become a safety concern for the public, some areas may be closed early to Christmas tree gathering. Forest roads are not plowed. Call ahead and check websites for road conditions before heading out. Please do not block private or county roadways at any time.

To provide for family safety, officials advise a few simple guidelines:

  • Use the brochure with instructions provided.
  • Practice winter survival and driving techniques.
  • Bring the right tools, such as a saw and a shovel, so the tree can be cut to within 6” of the ground’s surface.
  • Take along emergency equipment, plenty of food and water, and try to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you are planning to travel in snow country.
  • Always inform neighbors and family friends of the route you intend to take, include a map of your destination, and the time that you plan to be gone.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of a long hike or snowmobile ride while searching for the perfect tree.
  • According to Idaho state law, any vehicle carrying a load that extends more than 4 feet past the tailgate, must display a red or florescent orange flag tied on the end of the load to caution other drivers.

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