Cutting your Christmas tree, a Montana tradition

Christmas tree permits are available for at all seven Ranger District offices and numerous vendors across the Custer Gallatin National Forest.  Forest Service offices in Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Livingston, Gardiner, Red Lodge, Billings, Ashland, MT and Camp Crook, SD will have permits available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday for $5 each, with a limit of three permits per household. Permits are sold in person and cash, check, debit and credit are accepted. 
The following local businesses will also have permits for sale.
• Red Lodge:  Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop and True Value Hardware
• Absarorke: Rockin J Gas Station
• Billings: Cabela’s and Ace Hardware (Heights and Zimmerman Trail Road locations).
A permit can also be purchased for gathering personal-use boughs. Permits, maps, forest road access updates and tree species identification guides are available at each ranger district office. 
“Cutting a Christmas tree is a great, family fun tradition for many,” said Marna Daley, public affairs officer for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. “Dress in layers for changing weather conditions, be prepared for emergencies, and enjoy spending time outdoors with friends and family.”  
Those with a permit may cut a Christmas tree anywhere on the Custer Gallatin National Forest except in campgrounds, trailheads, designated wilderness areas, developed recreation sites, posted timber sale units, recently planted locations and administrative sites. Permits are also valid for any national forest in the Northern Region, which includes all of Montana, northern Idaho and portions of North and South Dakota.  General guidelines for cutting a tree include the following:
• No tree cutting is allowed within 50 feet of any stream, lake or wetland. 
• Only trees 15 feet tall or less may be cut.
• Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible and below the lowest live limb.  A remaining stump height of 6 inches or less is ideal. 
• After cutting your tree, attach the purchased permit to a lower limb near the trunk for transporting home.
• “Topping” trees, or cutting the top off trees, deforms any future growth and leaves a visual eyesore.  Take the entire tree or choose another one.
• Trees help protect watersheds, provide habitat for wildlife, and contribute to beautiful scenery.  Keep these values in mind when selecting a tree.
For more information, please contact any Custer Gallatin National Forest office or for general forest information visit online at www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin.

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Upcoming Events

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 

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