Christmas tree cutting is fun for family, friends |

Christmas tree cutting is fun for family, friends

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News
Vail, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado – In eastern Pennsylvania, it’s not exactly easy to find a wide open space to cut a Christmas tree.

Nonetheless, my parents, who grew up in the woods of relatively undeveloped Virginia, made sure we had the unique experience of gearing up in warm clothes, grabbing a saw and work gloves, and heading out to the tree farm to fell a tree of our choice. That tree would be wrapped up and transported back to rest in our living room’s picture window – but not before we stopped into the warm reception area for some hot cocoa and apple cider.

When I moved west, the Christmas tree experience heightened. I could fell my own tree, and, if I wanted, I could wander vast acreage to find the perfect one. That unique childhood experience at the tree farm turned into so much more when I lived in Wyoming and then Colorado, where the natural, quirky trees grow. As the magic of visiting the tree farm began to fade, it was replaced by the winter forest’s magic. I’ve never missed the chance to slip on the snow gear and tromp through the woods with friends and family since.

More often than not, my foray into the forest has turned out what my Eastern family and friends might affectionately call a “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree,” but to those of us who know what it’s like to fell your own tree, it’s so much more – even if it’s not perfect.

It’s a sled to get back to your car. Particularly when you find yourself much farther away than you wanted to be (A tip: Try to climb away from your vehicle when searching for a tree. It’s much easier to drag it downhill than pull it uphill).

It’s a keepsake – for the month it remains alive. A reminder of the adventure to go get it.

It’s a template for creative design (and sometimes creative rigging, when you get one that’s too tall and narrow and doesn’t exactly fit under the ceiling or into the tree stand). A place where you can string a strand of popcorn, or loop together construction paper garland. Uniform beer cans make interesting ornaments, too (Pabst Blue Ribbon works nicely), and so do pinecones still adorning trees.

It’s a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Permits went on sale at forest service offices across Central Colorado on Monday.

The Dillon Ranger District in Silverthorne is allowing trees to be cut this year, though it’s severely limited. Last year, District Ranger Jan Cutts closed the process due to hazards presented by the mountain pine beetle infestation and the resultant dead and dying trees.

“This year, we’ve made enough headway with dealing with the concerns of last year” that a cutting area can be provided, forest service spokesman Patrick Thrasher said.

For $10 cash, check or money order, one tree can be harvested in all areas of the White River National Forest except in wilderness areas, commercial timber sales, recreation and ski areas, administrative areas, Glenwood Canyon and No Name Road near Camp Hale. Maps are available at the offices where permits are sold.

A limit of 10 permits are allowed per individual. Permits must be attached to the tree prior to cutting and must be left on the tree until it arrives at its final destination.

Other ranger districts allow more than lodgepole to be cut in a variety of areas:

• Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District – Offices in Eagle and Minturn carry the permits Monday through Friday during regular business hours. The Minturn office will also be open Saturday, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 970-328-6388 for additional information.

• Dillon Ranger District – Permits are available at the Dillon Ranger District office. The Dillon Ranger Station will be open Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office will be closed on Thanksgiving. The designated cutting area is the Lake Hill area located between the Dillon Dam road and I-70. Only lodgepole pine can be cut. Call 970-468-5400 for additional information.

• Aspen and Sopris Ranger Districts – Permits are available Monday through Friday at offices in Aspen and Carbondale. Call 970-925-3445 or 970-963-2266 for additional information.

• Glenwood Springs – Christmas tree permits may be obtained at the White River Forest Supervisor’s Office, located at 900 Grand Avenue Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 970-945-2521 for additional information.

• Rifle Ranger District – Call 970-625-2371 for more information on getting a permit in the Rifle area.

• Blanco Ranger District – Call 970-878-4039 for more information on getting a permit in the Meeker area.

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