IRONWOOD, Mich., (WJMN) – The Ottawa National Forest sells Christmas tree permits every year for people interested in cutting their own tree.
Permits cost $5 for one tree. Lisa Klaus, public affairs officer for the Ottawa National Forest recommends getting a map to help find approved areas for tree harvesting.
“There are a couple of different options for purchasing a Christmas tree permit this year,” said Klaus. “So one, you can go into any of our forest service offices and they have permits available for you there or new in 2020 we are providing permits online through recreation.gov.”
On the permit webpage, you can also find tips and important guidelines for harvesting a Christmas Tree. Klaus says there are several types of trees to look for.
“Typically on the Ottawa National Forest you’re going to find your balsam firs, those ones, they’re shaped well and they hold their needle very well which makes them kind of a preferred tree” said Klaus. “We also have white spruce, those are usually found on some of our higher elevations, they’re shaped like a pyramid too that everyone is familiar with.”
Klaus says the needles on white spruce trees are sharp, she recommends gloves and cautious handling. She says U.P. weather can change fast and in many parts of the forest cell phone signal may not be available so to go prepared.
“We do encourage everyone to be prepared for winter weather conditions while you’re out, so that includes a full tank of gas, bring a spare key and give it to someone else in your party so you don’t lock yourself out of the car,” said Klaus. “Remember we might not always have cell service so we do recommend that people bring a map.”
Some roads in the forest are seasonal roads and won’t be plowed if there’s snow. Klaus recommends bringing tire chains, a shovel and a tow strap or chain.
“For cutting down your tree, we do recommend that you bring gloves to protect your hands, boots to protect your feet and of course your handsaw to cut your tree,” said Klaus.
A tarp along with straps or rope to tie the tree securely to your vehicle are also necessary. Klaus says a tarp can be useful to sit or kneel on while cutting a tree along with using it to carry the tree back.
Some roads in the Ottawa National Forest are not plowed during the winter. Motor vehicle use maps are available online on their website or at forest service offices. Klaus says maps designate where certain types of transportation such as cars or ORV’s can be taken. Maps also will help show designated areas within forest boundaries.
“We cannot cut out of a wilderness area, no administrative sites, no developed recreation sites such as a campground,” said Klaus. “Please do not cut out of plantations also or research natural areas.”
Trees over 25 feet tall should not be cut down, nor should the tops of trees be cut off. Klaus says finding your own Christmas tree is a fun family tradition and helps give other trees more room to grow.
“If you can cut a tree from a dense forested area it does give those remaining trees more space to grow but one of the best things we found about cutting trees for your Christmas tree is just that annual tradition that kicks off the holiday season for a lot of people does give you an opportunity to get outside and enjoy those natural resources and I think everyone just wants to get outside right now and it’s a great chance to be with family and friends,” said Klaus.
Klaus says this is an activity the National Forest is happy to offer that often becomes a yearly tradition.