If you like getting a real Christmas tree for your home -- how about harvesting one from a National Forest? You can take the family and chop down your own Christmas tree, save money, and help maintain a healthy forest while doing so.

Cutting down a holiday tree is a special tradition that many families like to to share together. For many families, venturing into the forest to find and chop down that perfect tree has been a tradition carried on for generations. Plus, every tree that is found, cut, and carried home is also contributing to the overall health of the forest.

There are National Forests all across the United States where you can harvest your Christmas tree. Here in Michigan you could travel to the Hiawatha National Forest or the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula, or visit  the Huron-Manistee National Forest a little closer to home in the Lower Peninsula.

Once you locate a National Forest, you need to purchase a Christmas Tree Permit. You can do so online, just click on the links above for the National Forest you wish to visit. The cost is only $5 per tree at the three National Forests in our state. Depending on the National Forest you visit, there is a limit of either 3 or 5 trees.

There are some guidelines and restrictions:

  • Select a location away from lakes, campgrounds or other developed or dispersed recreation sites
  • Do not cut trees within 100 feet of a lake or river.
  • Do not cut in active timber sales or areas that have been planted with new trees.
  • There are also limitations on Tree Height and Stump Height, but these can vary depending on the National Forest.
  • In some forests you can only cut Balsam and Spruce Trees, not pine trees
  • Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down the entire tree.

Some tools you might want to consider bringing with you include a measuring tape to ensure you select a tree that will fit in your home and car, a handsaw to cut your tree,  gloves for your hands, boots; a tarp to sit on and/or to move your tree once it's cut; and rope or straps to secure your tree to your vehicle if it doesn't fit inside.

Also, choose a tree from a densely forested area, to give the remaining trees more space to grow.

The Hiawatha National Forest is located near the center of the Upper Peninsula...

The Ottawa National Forest is in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula...

The Huron-Manistee National Forests are 976,043 acres of public lands across the northern lower peninsula of Michigan...

Happy Tree Hunting!

 

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