Tips, tricks and rules for finding this year’s tree |

Tips, tricks and rules for finding this year’s tree

Nate Day
Down valley-folks will find themselves traveling East or West to find trees. The Ranger District office for Eagle-Holy Cross is located in Minturn.
Special to the Daily

It’s officially the Christmas season, which means it’s time to decorate. Stockings should be hung on the fireplace with care, bows of holly should deck the halls and, of course, you’ll need a tree. This time of year, nothing beats the smell of fresh pine wafting from the living room.

In order to help both humans and trees have a safe and happy holiday season, the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service have compiled a list of tips for those looking to get a live tree.

Rule number one

The first tip is maybe the most important: don’t cut down a lone tree.

When trees sit alone in a forest opening, they’re beginning the process of growing trees in the empty spaces, which will one day be full forests — which means there’ll be more Christmas trees in the future.

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Instead, the USDA recommends finding a group of trees and selecting one from the group. This will also encourage the remaining trees to grow.


Something else to keep in mind is where you find your tree. There are several locations where it is strictly prohibited to cut down a tree. Those locations are:

Wilderness areas and proposed wilderness areas.

Developed recreation areas including Glenwood Canyon.

Administrative areas.

Campgrounds and ski areas.

Commercial timber sales, where logging is active.

Within 100 feet of main roads.

Camp Hale area on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District.

White River National Forest Lands within Gunnison County (Aspen-Sporis Ranger District).

Meadow Mountain (lower slopes) directly behind the Holy Cross Ranger Station (outside of Minturn).

The Lake Christine Burned area (Basalt Mountain).


Not only are there areas where a tree can’t be cut down, but you’ve got to keep an eye on the type of tree you chop, too. Here are the rules for choosing your tree:

Any conifer species may be harvested.

Avoid cutting Colorado blue spruce trees.

Aspen trees may be cut.

Harvested trees must be less than 15 feet in height at ground level.

Harvested trees must be 6 inches or less in stump diameter from ground level.

Cutting the top off of large trees is prohibited.

Trees must be harvested for personal use and not re-sold.

Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible (stump height of 6 inches or less) and trim stumps clean of all green branches.

Attach your Christmas tree permit to the base of your tree before transporting.

One Christmas tree permit will be issued for each Christmas tree to be harvested.


To obtain a Christmas tree permit, you can pick one up for $10 at the Vail Valley Ace Hardware (2111 North Frontage Road West, Suite C, Vail) or at the Nearly Everything Store — Baston’s Corner (301 Broadway Street, Eagle). Additional vending locations and information on mail-in permits can be found at


Now that you’ve got your tree home, how are you supposed to take care of it? Once your tree is home, cut 1 inch off of the base of the trunk and place the tree immediately in water. If the tree is allowed to dry out, it will seal and no longer take up water. Tap water will work just fine to prolong the life of your tree.

Be sure to check the water levels several times each day during the first week of having the tree, then at least once a day after that.

You can increase humidity around the tree by blocking off furnace outlets near the tree and misting the needles daily.

For more information, call the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District at 970-827-5715.

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