US Forest Service Initiative Encouraging People To Cut Their Own Christmas Trees

Christmas tree prices in recent years have been on a steady rise, motivating many people to branch out, and cut their own. A decades-old initiative run by the US Forest Service is encouraging individuals to cut their own trees during the holiday seasons as a means of maintaining healthy forests throughout the nation. 

The US Forest Service has been running an initiative to motivate individuals who celebrate Christmas to cut down their own trees as a means of maintaining healthy forests. With Christmas tree prices increasing in the past few years, many have begun taking part in the initiative, which has been beneficial to their wallets this gift-giving season, as well as the environment.

Forest managers state that this annual harvesting of Christmas trees actually improves a forest’s health and helps decrease potential fire hazards by the time wildfire season comes around. 

While commercial tree farm sales assist this initiative, harvesting one’s own Christmas tree is a great way to do your part in helping our nation’s forests flourish. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, about 21 million Christmas trees were bought last year at an average price of $70. Inflation has caused prices to increase around 10% this year, and experts are motivating individuals to instead spend the $5 to $25 to obtain a permit to cut their own tree. 

Janelle Smith, a US Forest Service official, recently spoke to the Guardian regarding the joy that cutting your own tree can bring to the home, as well as the environment.

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“You go out there and have this amazing experience and fall in love with the areas these trees grow. Hopefully then, you can pass that [tradition] along to your kids and their kids.” 

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In recent years the forest service has increased their awareness efforts to self-harvesting Christmas trees, making it easy to get your permit online and find local areas where it’s permitted. 

Harvesting Christmas trees helps assist with overcrowding in forests, which increases fire hazards in the warmer weather, as well as teaching people about the importance of forest maintenance. 

According to officials, taking smaller trees from dense forest areas helps maintain the overall health of the environment, as it decreases environmental dangers and ensures a smoother distribution of forest resources. 

According to US Forest Service National Press Officer Wade Muehlhof, every forest that produces Christmas trees has their own specific benefits to the annual harvesting of the trees.  

“Just like any project work we do on National Forest System lands, all of these are planned. Someone is looking at what the stability of the ground looks like, what has regenerated, the height of trees available, etc. These programs are well planned out.”

During wildfire season, smaller trees can create a larger risk for forest environments as they act as ignition for larger trees, which the flames can climb on. 

“It is good to have people come through and take some of the smaller trees that are packed in, really dense and overcrowded. It leaves more space and nutrients and water for the larger trees to continue to grow,” said Laura Leidner, spokesperson for the Mendocino national forest. 

Every year, Christmas tree harvesting efforts are also evaluated to ensure that the areas in which these trees are being harvested are experiencing the benefits, rather than being harmed by the removal of the trees. This is why one needs a permit and must abide within certain areas and restrictions when self-harvesting. 

Typically, the trees that one is permitted to harvest have to have trunks smaller than 6 inches in diameter, growing at least 200 feet from a main road, and be cut from the bottom, leaving less than half-a-foot as a stump. 

“Many families are discovering their local forest for the first time to bring home their special holiday tree. These experiences help connect people to their local national forest and become treasured family memories,” said the US Forest Service chief, Randy Moore.

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