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BLM offers permits to cut Christmas tree in Southwest Colorado

David Burke cuts down the family Christmas tree in 2017 during a trip by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Christmas tree Train. Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald
Permits can be obtained at the local BLM district office

Decking the halls just got a little more adventurous. This year, the Bureau of Land Management Southwest District office is offering permits to cut down a Christmas tree.

“Each of the three field offices in the district – Gunnison, Tres Rios and Uncompahgre – identifies noncommercial forest product offerings such as Christmas trees and firewood as an authorized resource use in their Resource Management Plan,” said Maggie Magee, public affairs specialist of the BLM Southwest District. “So for instance, the Tres Rios Field Office authorized noncommercial forest products, which includes Christmas trees, in the 2015 RMP, although not all areas of the field office are open to every use, which is why we make maps of open cutting areas available.”

BLM is offering Christmas tree cutting permits and are selling online at forestproducts.blm.gov and at BLM Southwest District offices Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The BLM accepts cash, credit card or check for the cost of a permit. Permits are valid for piñon pines or junipers. Information regarding authorized cutting areas is provided upon purchase of a permit.

“The BLM is excited to once again offer the opportunity for families and friends to get outside on their public lands and select their own Christmas tree,” said Southwest District Manager Stephanie Connolly.

“Please remember to follow BLM cutting guidelines and safety precautions when harvesting your tree,” she added.

Permits can be purchased online or from the district office at the Dolores Public Lands Office, BLM Tres Rios Field Office at 29211 Colorado Highway 184 in Dolores from Nov. 20 through Dec. 24 for $8. Their office number is 970-882-7296.

Magee shared that in her personal experience, searching and cutting down a Christmas tree is a special way to make memories and spend time with family over the holidays.

“Every year the BLM Southwest District offers the opportunity for people to get out on our public lands to cut their own Christmas tree. From personal experience, it’s incredibly rewarding to traipse across the (hopefully lightly) snow-covered ground on a crisp day with your family in search of the perfect tree … one that’s just the right size and shape,” Magee said.

“Finding a tree together can create a perfect start to the holiday season. And now is a wonderful chance to venture out and explore your public lands one last time before the snow flies,” Magee said. “After the snow gets deep, some areas in our district can become fairly inaccessible. Our family typically returns from our Christmas tree outings happy and tired, and generally feeling pretty pleased with ourselves!”

The field offices in the Southwest District offer piñons and junipers, which typically grow together in open woodlands at between about 4,500 and 7,500 feet in elevation.

According to the BLM, permit holders are required to keep their permit with them while cutting and attach it to their tree before transporting it.

“The BLM recommends bringing along a handsaw, eye protection, rope or twine, food, water, and blankets when you cut your tree. Tire chains, a shovel, and emergency supplies are also recommended,” they said.

They also asked that those who choose to cut down their tree remember to monitor weather conditions.

“Let someone know where you will be and when to expect you back,” they advised in their news release, as well as mentioning that sunset is around 5 p.m. each night.