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Carter Williams, KSL.com, File

Looking for a Christmas tree? Here's where you can get a Utah public lands permit this year

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Posted - Nov. 27, 2020 at 8:34 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Now that Thanksgiving is over, the remaining holidays of the year are in sight.

Many Utahns have already started decorating for Christmas. Given all that has happened in 2020, who could blame anyone for celebrating the season early?

But for those of you who haven't started decorating and are maybe still searching for the right tree, you can find one around several public land areas throughout Utah.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management both began selling tree permits weeks ago. There were some adjustments made due to COVID-19, but people can still access permits in different ways.

BLM permits

The Bureau of Land Management offers permits in different ways. It's advised to contact a BLM field office to see if a permit needs to be purchased in person or if it can be bought over the phone or through email.

Anyone planning to visit a field office location in person is advised to follow COVID-19 protocols for that location. More information about that can be found on the BLM's website.

The BLM's nine field offices in Utah are:

Cedar City

  • Location: 176 E. D.L. Sargent Drive
  • Phone: 435-865-3000
  • Email: blm_ut_cedar_city@blm.gov
  • Note: St. George Field Office permits are sold from this location.

Fillmore

Moab

Monticello

Paria River

Price

Richfield

  • Location: 150 E. 900 North
  • Phone: 435-896-1500
  • Email: utrfmail@blm.gov
  • Note: People can also visit the Henry Mountains Field Station at 380 S. 100 West in Hanksville to get a permit

Salt Lake

  • Location: 2370 S. Decker Lake Blvd in West Valley City
  • Phone: 801-977-4300
  • Email: utslmail@blm.gov
  • Note: Permits for Fillmore and Elko County, Nevada, can also be purchased at this location.

Vernal

The prices range from as low as $4 per tree in Elko County, Nevada, to $10 per tree in Utah.

USFS permits

One of the easiest ways to grab a Christmas tree permit this year is to shop online, which allows you to avoid the hassle of finding a ranger station or another vendor of permits.

This is an option the U.S. Forest Service provides. People have the option to find permits for trees at Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-La Sal and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache national forests through the multi-agency recreation.gov website. An individual can then select the ranger district within the national forest they plan to visit and purchase a permit for that location.

The permits are priced differently based on location and, in some cases, the size of the tree. Prices range from $10 to $20 per tree depending on the area.

Permits can also be purchased at certain vendors. You can contact your local ranger district to find out which vendors sell permits.

Other important details

Now that you have a permit in hand, make sure you have the right tools and follow the rules of the land.

The right tools may include gloves, boots, measuring tape, a handsaw, a tarp and ropes/straps, Forest Service experts say. BLM officials recommend using a four-wheel drive vehicle or a snow machine for many locations, especially where snow is prevalent. Other important items include a cellphone, warm clothing, a container of hot liquid, food and water, a shovel and a first-aid kit.

Next, check to ensure you are cutting down a tree in the right location and a tree that fits the description of your permit.

Every Forest Service ranger district has its own rules. For example, only subalpine fir trees 20 feet in size or less may be cut down within the Heber-Kamas Ranger District, while juniper and pinyon trees in the Vernon area are allowed to be cut down within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. BLM also has differing rules on which species can be cut down based on the field office.

The recreation.gov website provides the rules for an individual before they purchase a permit and directs them where to go and get their tree. It also provides users links to photos that help identify tree species so they chop down the right species for their permit.

In addition, people aren't allowed to cut a tree outside of the land owned by the permit. If you have a BLM-issued permit, you can't cut down a tree on private, state, Forest Service or National Park Service land.

It's also important you don't cut down trees in areas you aren't supposed to. Don't cut down trees at Forest Service campgrounds, existing tree plantations, in wilderness areas, or areas where new trees were planted.

Some national forests have different limits as to where trees can be cut in relation to water, roads and trails. These range anywhere from 50 to 500 feet depending on the national forest, so make sure to check your permit before you cut down a tree that follows those stipulations.

Officials recommend cutting down a tree from a densely forested area so the remaining trees have additional space to grow.

Once you cut down your tree, Forest Service officials recommend that people drag their tree out carefully so it doesn't rub needles or bark off as you haul it back from the woods. Trees transported outside of a vehicle should be wrapped in canvas to prevent wind damage on the trip back home.

Experts also recommend cutting the bottom of the trunk off at home and placing the newly cut trunk in a bucket of water.

Carter Williams

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