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Permits available for Christmas trees. Here is what you need to know before heading to Colville National Forest

Tree permits will cost $5 plus a processing fee on Nov. 9 with free permits for fourth graders through the national Every Kid in a Park initiative.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Christmas season is coming and trees will be available on at designated areas of the 1.5 million acres Colville National Forest on Nov. 9.

Christmas tree permits to enjoy a family adventure searching for a tree in the Colville National Forest will go on sale on Nov. 9 through the Recreation.gov website or in person at specific local district offices. There will be a maximum of two to three trees per family. 

Permits will cost $5 with a $2.50 processing fee. Fourth-grade kids are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit through the national Every Kid in a Park initiative. If you don't want to go to the forest to cut your Christmas tree, you can also buy it for $5 from applicable local vendors.

Some of the local Christmas tree vendors include North 40, The Junction, Harding’s Hardware, Kettle Ture Value, Hartill’s Mountain Saw & Tractor, and North Ridge Outfitters. For the specific vendor locations, visit the United States Department of Agriculture website.

Fourth graders can get a free Christmas tree tag through the Recreation.gov website, the Every kid Outdoors website, or by visiting in person at their local Colville National Forest Service District Office.

Here is a list of district offices where you can buy a Christmas tree tag or get a free tag for your fourth grader

  •  Tonasket Ranger District, office opens Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed from 12:30 to 1 p.m. for lunch). 
  •  Republic Ranger District, opens Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed 11:30 to 12:30 for lunch) 
  • Three Rivers Ranger District, office opens Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed from 11:30 to 12:30 for lunch) 
  • Colville SO, permits sold at the front door by calling  the office in advance at 509-684-7000, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Newport Ranger District, office opens Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed 11:30 to 12:30 for lunch). 

As the weather is constantly changing, people planning on cutting their own tree are advised to do proper research before leaving home. 

Here is what you need to know before hitting the road to cut your Christmas tree, as advised by Recreation.gov :

Where to cut your tree?

  • All trees must be harvested at least 50 feet from Forest Service Roads and 150 feet of state highways, picnic areas, designated campgrounds and recreation sites, or other developed areas, such as recreation cabins and organization camps.
  • Don’t park at a sno-park without a valid WA Sno-Park permit in your vehicle.

Helpful cutting tips

  • Carry your tree carefully out of the woods. Dragging the tree will rub off needles and bark. 

  • If the tree is too big to transport inside of your vehicle, wrap it in canvas to prevent wind damage. 

  • It is recommended that you bring a sled along to help transport your tree from the cut site to your car.
  • Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Replenish water. 
  • If storing your tree outside for a few days before putting it in the house, keep it in an area protected from the wind, such as the north or east side of your house or under a shaded tree.

  • Choose a tree from a dense forested area, which will give the remaining trees more space to grow.

  • Cut the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them.

Planning your trip

  • Check the latest weather conditions, forest warnings and road closures before you leave on your trip and bring a map with you.

  •  Be sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back as cell service may be spotty or unavailable in the woods.

  • Dress warmly and take extra dry clothes.

  • Check your car before hitting the road  and make sure it has a full tank of gas. Carry tire chains, shovels and a tow chain.

  • Bring plenty of food and water with you as well as an overnight survival kit in case you become stranded.

  • Bringing your pets is not recommended, but if you do, for their safety, keep them on a leash. Numerous pets get lost every year on the Colville National Forest while running free through the woods.