AMERICAN FORK — National Park Service officials are reminding people that cutting down trees on park and monument land is prohibited after someone apparently cut down a tree on Timpanogos Cave National Monument land over Thanksgiving weekend.
The tree that was cut was one of six new trees planted less than two weeks ago as crews continue to work on a new path for people to drive to the monument’s picnic area, according to Jim Ireland, superintendent for Timpanogos Cave National Monument.
“We planted them so we could get set up this winter, so we’d have some vegetation when we tried to open back up for the public next summer,” he said.
The park runs a short staff during the winter, and employees weren’t at the monument area Thursday or Friday last week. When they returned Monday morning, they noticed one of the new trees had been cut just above the ground level.
“These trees are just about the right size and shape to be a Christmas tree, so we sort of assumed somebody saw it as an opportunity to snag a Christmas tree,” Ireland said. “That would be the logical assumption.”
The U.S. Forest Service officials open land in certain areas for Christmas trees, as long as the individual cutting the tree has a permit for the period cutting is allowed. However, that’s not the case on any National Park Service land. All plants, animals or any other natural feature on National Park Service land is protected and preserved.
In addition, the Forest Service doesn’t allow tree cutting permits any part of American Fork Canyon.
Ireland added it’s the first time he can remember someone cutting a tree for holiday decor in Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Park rangers have had to remind visitors they can’t cut down trees or even branches for firewood in the past.
In a Facebook post, they urged visitors to report any person who they see cutting down a tree in American Fork Canyon.
“Please tell them to stop (if you feel comfortable doing so), get a description of vehicles and people involved, and then please let us know,” officials wrote in the post. “If you have any information regarding the cutting of the tree in this photo, please share that with us as well.”
Forest Service officials began selling permits for Christmas trees in other areas of the state earlier this month. Click here for a full list of federal land areas that grant permits for Christmas tree cutting in Utah.