Lake Tahoe, CA/NV…Christmas tree permits for National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin will be available for online purchase on a first-come, first-served basis Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. As a reminder, no tree cutting is permitted in the Caldor Fire closure area due to ongoing hazards within the Caldor Fire perimeter. The Caldor Fire Closure Order and map are posted on the LTBMU home page at www.fs.usda.gov/ltbmu.
To purchase a Christmas tree permit, visit www.recreation.gov/ and search for Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Christmas Tree Permits. It’s important to carefully read the overview and need-to-know information prior to purchasing the permit. Visitors must set up or login to an existing Recreation.gov account to complete the transaction. Setting up an account prior to Nov. 17 is recommended for a quicker check out process.
Permits cost $10 each, plus a $2.50 online processing fee with a limit of one permit per family. Permits should be printed prior to arrival at the cutting area and placed on the dashboard of your vehicle before leaving. Permits are expected to sell out quickly and no additional permits will be issued.
Cutting under these permits is allowed until December 31, to accommodate military families and others who may need to celebrate a delayed Christmas.
Permit holders may choose from a variety of pine, fir, or cedar trees up to six inches in diameter (at the base) in specially designated cutting areas. Cutting area maps will be available online at the time of purchase. Select a tree that is six inches or less in diameter at the base of the tree and be sure to choose a tree that is within 10 feet of another green tree. Do not remove the top of the tree, cut down the entire tree and leave a stump that is six inches or less above the ground. Scatter all discarded branches away from roads, ditches, and culverts.
Permit holders should follow permit guidelines for responsible collection, including not trespassing onto private property when entering or leaving National Forest cutting areas. Observe seasonal road closures and be prepared to hike to the cutting area to find a tree. No off-road travel is allowed. Park in legal areas and do not block gates. Weather permitting, some National Forest roads will remain open to improve access to cutting areas.
Cutting a Christmas tree supports forest health by reducing the number of small-diameter trees in densely populated stands. Local forest health experts identify areas that benefit from thinning trees that tend to be the perfect size for Christmas trees. Removing these trees in designated areas helps other trees grow larger and can open areas that provide forage for wildlife.
Finally, it’s important to remember that weather conditions in the mountains are unpredictable and travel during winter weather can be dangerous due to wet and/or icy roads. On stormy days, wind may cause branches or trees to fall, so visitors should avoid cutting on wet, windy days. Always check the weather before heading out and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Dress appropriately for cold weather conditions and be prepared for ice and snow. Carry tire chains and a shovel and bring emergency supplies, including water, food, blankets, and a first-aid kit. Keep in mind, mobile devices may not work in some areas, so develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.
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