Family with Christmas tree

Cutting down a Christmas tree can be a fun family activity.

For those who like to tromp around in the outdoors to find their Christmas tree, public land managers have a deal for you.

Permits to cut Christmas trees on national forest or Bureau of Land Management land in East Idaho will cost $15. Only one tree is allowed per family.

Permits on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest can be obtained at ranger district offices or at several vendors in East Idaho. They are available now.

In Pocatello, you can get a permit at the Westside Ranger District at 4350 S. Cliffs Drive or at C-A-L Ranch, 4115 Yellowstone Ave. A full list of vendors can be found at tinyurl.com/pr-tree-cutting.

“We sell between 8,000 and 9,000 Christmas tree tags per year,” said Sarah Wheeler, a spokesman for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. “Last year we sold 8,791.”

Households that purchase a Christmas tree permit are encouraged to harvest their trees as soon as possible due to weather conditions, Wheeler said in a news release. “Mountain snowstorms and subsequent road conditions can limit access to cutting areas.”

Both the BLM and Forest Service remind tree cutters that all motorized travel restrictions are still in effect and will be enforced. Both groups offer helpful maps on where to go and where not to go to find a Christmas tree.

“Montpelier and Palisades Ranger Districts are the most popular areas for Christmas tree cutting,” Wheeler said.

“Be safe and prepared,” the BLM advises in its tree permit information. “Check road and weather conditions before heading out. Make sure you have everything you need for an outdoor venture including warm clothes, food, water and safety equipment. Let someone know where you’ll be going and when you plan to return. If you get stranded, call for help, and stay with your group and vehicle until help arrives.”

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is offering one free Christmas tree cutting permit to fourth-graders who have an Every Kid Outdoors pass. The permits must be picked up by fourth-graders at Forest Service offices and are not available from vendors.

“The fourth-grader must be present at the time the permit is issued and must be picked up prior to cutting your tree,” the forest service said.

Wheeler said, last year, 54 fourth-graders took advantage of the Every Kid Outdoors pass to get a free Christmas tree cutting permit. She said the Caribou-Targhee office typically issued about 1,000 Every Kid Outdoors passes.

Every Kid Outdoors passes can be found at everykidoutdoors.gov/index.htm. With the pass, fourth-graders and their families can have free entry to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters for an entire year starting Sept. 1.