Outdoors Blog

Want to cut down your own Christmas tree in Idaho? Permits go on sale Nov. 18-19

Idaho sends a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C.

The Capitol Christmas tree was cut from the Payette National Forest near Little Ski Hill, just west of McCall, on Wednesday. The 80-foot Engelmann spruce will make several stops in Idaho before heading to Washington, D.C., where Boise fifth-grad
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The Capitol Christmas tree was cut from the Payette National Forest near Little Ski Hill, just west of McCall, on Wednesday. The 80-foot Engelmann spruce will make several stops in Idaho before heading to Washington, D.C., where Boise fifth-grad

The Boise and Payette national forests will begin selling Christmas tree permits for this year on Saturday, Nov. 19. The Sawtooth National Forest begins selling permits Friday, Nov. 18.

Permits are valid through Christmas Day. They allow for one tree each (and a total of three permits per family in the Boise and Payette forests). Permits cost $10.

(If you’re planning to cut your own tree and are willing to share your story for a feature in the Idaho Statesman, please email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.)

The maximum height of trees harvested in the Boise and Payette forests is 12 feet. The max in the Sawtooth is 20 feet.

The Boise and Payette national forests share a permit, so you can choose a tree from either forest.

Permits come with information about where trees can be cut, restrictions and tips. Permits are for personal use only.

A fourth-grader can receive a free permit as part of the “Every Kid in a Park” program. Kids have to complete an application at everykidinapark.gov and bring a voucher to a Forest Service office (not commercial vendors).

Boise and Payette sell permits through vendors, at district offices (hours vary) and at the Interagency Visitor Information Center at 1387 S. Vinnell Way in Boise (Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). The Sawtooth sells permits through Forest Service offices and vendors.

Some Forest Service reminders:

▪ Use the brochure with instructions provided.

▪ Practice winter survival and driving techniques.

▪ Bring the right tools, such as a saw and a shovel, so the tree can be cut to within 6 inches of the ground’s surface.

▪ Take along emergency equipment, plenty of food and water, and try to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you are planning to travel in snow country.

▪ Always advise neighbors and family friends of the route you intend to take, include a map of your destination, and the time that you plan to be gone.

▪ Be prepared for the possibility of a long hike or snowmobile ride while searching for the perfect tree.

▪ According to Idaho state law, any vehicle carrying a load that extends more than 4 feet past the tailgate, must display a red or florescent orange flag tied on the end of the load to caution other drivers.

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