Permits for self-cut Christmas trees available in Yampa for National Forest land

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— The Yampa Ranger District station said the permits for self-cut Christmas trees already are flying in as families prepare for the Thanksgiving Day tradition.

For $10, anyone can buy a permit to cut a tree in the approved areas of the National Forest land.

Ranger District visitor station worker Jason Szyba said most of the permit requests have been mailed in.

“There’s definitely a little rush because a lot of people take Thanksgiving weekend to go get them,” he said.

He said he would recommend that people coming from the Steamboat Springs area look for the perfect tree in the Dunkley Pass area on Routt County Road 132.

Most of the National Forest land is fair game, but several high-profile areas are off limits. Trees cannot be cut from Steamboat Ski Area, Fish Creek Falls Recreation Area, Thunder Basin National Grassland or any designated wilderness areas.

According to the guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tree hunters also must be at least 100 feet from any road and 200 feet from any developed campground. Stumps should be 6 inches or shorter — no “topping” of the trees and leaving lower limbs.

“Christmas tree cutting can benefit crowded stands of trees and, if done properly, will not create an eyesore in the woods. There are several species available in the area,” the USDA website states. “We recommend sub-Alpine fir and lodgepole pine. Engelmann spruce dries up and loses its needles considerably faster than the other trees.”

Szyba said 100 permits are available at the Yampa Ranger District station. The office doesn’t typically run out and likely can get more permits if needed. There is a limit of five trees per household.

To buy a permit, mail a $10 check made out to the USDA to 300 Roselawn Ave., Yampa, CO 80483.

— To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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