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Everything you need to know about getting Christmas tree permits

The U.S. Forest Service allows cutting of trees in districts throughout the state with the purchase of a permit.

COLORADO, USA — Hiking through the forest in search of the perfect Christmas tree is a memorable way spend some time during the holidays in Colorado.

Whether a family tradition for generations or a newly-discovered way to start the season, it's not only fun, but also an economical choice.

While it certainly requires a little bit more effort, cutting down your own tree is significantly cheaper than buying one from a tree lot or grocery store. And it contributes to forest health by helping to thin dense growth. 

If you have a fourth grade student at home, you can get your family's tree for free! All fourth graders are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit through the Every Kid Outdoors program. You can learn more about the program here.

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How it works

There are several Forest Service cutting areas in the state and along the Front Range. For each one, you’ll need to purchase a permit for $10 or $20 before you cut down a tree.

All of the permits can be bought online ahead of time. Some can also be found in local stores or ranger officers.

Each district regulates its permit system a little differently.

Fraser/Winter Park

Permit Sales: Permits are available online by clicking here, at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Country Ace Hardware in Granby, Murdoch's in Fraser, Fireside Market in Winter Park and the Grand Lake Visitor Center. All permits must be bought in advance and are $20 each.

Dates: Nov. 9 - Jan. 6

Details: Cutting will be available anywhere within the Sulphur Ranger District, expect specific closure areas listed on this flyer. The Elk Creek cutting area, located southwest of Fraser, will also be open from Dec. 4 - Dec. 12 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. Either four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or chains will be required when entering the cutting area due to anticipated heavy snow on the ground.

More: http://bit.ly/2zR8t3i

Cutting area map: http://bit.ly/2zAnjqQR

Estes Park/Red Feather Lakes

Permit Sales: Permits are available online by clicking here. They must be bought in advance and are $20 each.

Dates: Nov. 26 - Jan. 8

Details: In the past, there has been a designated cutting area near Red Feather Lakes, but due to the impact of the Cameron Peak Fire, this year, cutting will instead be available throughout the Canyon Lakes Ranger District. There are some areas closed to cutting, like the Raweh Wilderness, Comanche Peak Wilderness, Cache Le Poudre Wilderness and Neota Wilderness. Suggested cutting areas are listed here.

More: http://bit.ly/2zR8t3i

Cutting area map: http://bit.ly/2zAnjqQR

Buffalo Creek

Permit Sales: Permits for the Buffalo Creek, Camp Fickes and Sugar Creek area are available online here for $20. 

Dates: Nov. 29 - Dec. 12 

Details: These permits are restricted to the specific cutting area and date or date range you buy them for. Weekday permits are available for the full cutting season and are easier to get. Weekend permits are only available for specific dates and are likely to sell out.

More: http://bit.ly/2Bp71l3

Cutting area map: https://bit.ly/36ZTr8w

South Park

Permit Sales: This year, sales for permits are available online at this link or by mailing a form and check to the South Park District ranger office. Permits are $20.

Dates: Oct. 14 - Dec. 31

Details: Anyone with a permit can cut down a tree anywhere within the South Park Ranger District, with the exception of a few restricted areas. There is private land within the boundary, so be sure the tree you are cutting is on Forest Service property. Detailed maps that include suggested cutting locations based on the tree species you are looking for can be found here.

More: http://bit.ly/2Bp71l3

Cutting area map: https://bit.ly/36ZTr8w

Leadville/Salida/Cañon City

Permit Sales: Christmas tree permits can be purchased online at this link or requests can be mailed with a check and self-addressed, stamped envelope to the appropriate district office. Permits are $10.

Dates: Nov. 19 - Dec. 31

Other: Christmas tree cutting is allowed throughout the San Isabel National Forest with the exceptions of campgrounds, trailheads, ski areas, wilderness areas and recreation areas 

More: http://bit.ly/2jwOcVE

Cutting area map: Available at the district offices

Colorado Springs/Woodland Park

Permit Sales: Permits will go on sale Nov. 26 and will be available online only at this link. They are $20 each.

Dates: Nov. 26 - Dec. 15

Other: Trees may be cut northwest of Woodland Park in the North Divide area and northwest of Woodland Park off Forest Service Roads 339 and 342. Be aware that many Douglas fir trees have been damaged by Western Spruce Budworm. Ponderosa pine, Engelmann spruce and Limber pine are also available in this area.

More: http://bit.ly/2jwOcVE

Cutting area map: https://bit.ly/2UXvDND

Western Slope

Permit Sales: Permits are available online at this link and are $10. Permits can also be purchased at a variety of vendors in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Dillon, Breckenridge, etc. A full list of those stores is available here. They are also available at all White River National Forest offices.

Dates: Nov. 14 - Dec. 31

Other: A permit allows you to cut trees in designated areas in any district within the White River National Forest. Cutting is not allowed in wilderness areas, developed recreation areas, campgrounds, ski areas, etc. You cannot cut Colorado Blue Spruce trees.

More: http://bit.ly/2jwOcVE

Cutting area maps:

Aspen-Sopris Ranger District:https://bit.ly/3m5aUDr  

Blanco Ranger District: https://bit.ly/3fxHwDC

Dillon Ranger District: https://bit.ly/3l0GBfR

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District: https://bit.ly/3nUE1K8

Rifle Ranger District: https://bit.ly/3laZ0a5

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