Tree-hunting season opens in Routt County |

Tree-hunting season opens in Routt County

Christmas tree permits now available from forest ranger offices

Zach Fridell

— Pull on the boots, pack up the saw and load up the car: It's tree-hunting time.

Permits for Christmas trees now are available from the Routt National Forest ranger offices from Walden to Craig for $10 apiece, but getting the permit is the easy part.

After a tree hunter picks up a pass, it's off to the snowy hills to find the perfect evergreen.

Ingrid Anderson, forester with the Parks Ranger District in Walden, said because the roads aren't maintained, finding a tree can be a challenge.

Anderson said people have had luck near the Slack-Weiss Reservoir in previous years and near Coalmont, off Colorado Highway 14.

"Anywhere in that vicinity, it's pretty good," she said, adding that some roads in the area will be open longer than usual this year because of logging.

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U.S. Forest Service recreation specialist Kent Foster said it might be tempting to take younger trees near the road, but foresters ask that people follow the rules.

"It's interesting, because the best places to go are nearest the trailheads, which is where we really don't want people to go," he said.

But those places also can be picked over, leaving better trees farther away.

Foster said good trees may be found near plowed pull-out areas on Routt County Road 129 north of Columbine or on the more remote areas of Rabbit Ears Pass.

"We just encourage people to go for a little bit of a hike," he said. He also said that people could help make the forest healthier by choosing trees in crowded areas, leaving more room for younger trees to grow.

Lee Duerksen, with the Yampa district, said that near Yampa, the Red Dirt Reservoir and Flat Top Trail Scenic Byway areas could have good trees.

Duerksen said rangers request that tree hunters choose trees at least 100 feet away from all roads and that they leave no stumps taller than 6 inches.

"We just want them to have a great time while they're out there," she said. "We'd like them to not 'top' trees," meaning cut only the tops off the tree, "but rather cut off the whole tree that they're going to take."

Tree hunters also are asked to cut below the lowest living branch and spread any leftover limbs across the forest floor instead of leaving them in a pile.

Foster suggested cutting trees on the uphill side of a trail to make the return to the car easier.

Duerksen said the Forest Service has never sold out of permits in the area.

To buy a tree permit

Routt National Forest Christmas tree permits are available for $10 per tree with a maximum of five trees per household. Trees can be purchased at these office locations:

■ Yampa Ranger District, 970-638-4516, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

■ Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District, Steamboat Springs, 870-2299, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

■ Parks Ranger District, Walden, 970-723-2700, open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

■ Kremmling Bureau of Land Management office, 970-724-3000, open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

■ Craig Chamber of Commerce, 824-5689, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

Permits also may be purchased through the mail from the Yampa Ranger District. Mail your check along with your name and address to: Yampa Ranger District, P.O. Box 144, Yampa, CO 80483.

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