Cutting Your Own Tree
November 1, 2019
It's A Wonderful Christmas Tradition
It's a holiday tradition for many families -- a trip to and into the woods, scoping out the perfect tree for Christmas, and finally, cutting down the one that you think is ideal, and then transporting it to your home. Although it sounds simple enough, there are requirements and restrictions you need to know before you go, but every step of the process is definitely worth it.
The prize? A lovely fresh tree with that wonderful scent that cannot be duplicated by any air freshener ever -- the evergreen fragrance of pine or fir.
Where To Cut
There are private Christmas tree farms that don't require permits or tags or specific cutting dates, but that is not the case for trees from one of these national forests in Arizona: Tonto, Apache-Sitgreaves, Kaibab, Coconino, and Prescott.
When To Cut
Tree cutting season runs from mid-November, when the permits go on sale, to December 24, Christmas Eve, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Because the traditional firs and ponderosa pines are a commodity in Arizona, it's a good idea to start your search early. Pre-Thanksgiving is not too soon.
What To Do Then
Only firs and ponderosa pines may be cut from national forests in Arizona. Once you have your permit, you'll also have a map, a tag, and a sheet of facts to help you with your search. Trees of up to 10 feet may be cut, but no taller.
It is easier to do the cutting of your chosen tree with a partner. Have him or her hold the top as another saws the tree trunk. A good idea is to catch the tree on a tarp, thus making it easier to carry and to protect your car. It is important to attach the Forest Service tag you received to show you have purchased a permit.
How To Get A Permit
The number of permits that go on sale depends on the forest and the year, but generally, it's about 1,000 per National Forest. They're available from mid-November and they're first-come, first-serve. The cost is around $15 each, but only one per household is allowed. While some allow purchase via mail order, others require that you obtain your permit in person, so you may need to pay a visit to one of the ranger stations.
• Tonto National Forest
o Supervisor's Office: 2324 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
o Mesa Ranger District: 5140 E. Ingram St., Mesa
o Payson Ranger District: 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson
• Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
o Supervisor's Office: 30 S. Chiricahua Dr., Springerville
o Alpine Ranger District: 42634 Hwy. 180/191, Alpine
o Black Mesa Ranger District: 2748 E. AZ 260, Overgaard
o Clifton Ranger District: 397240 AZ 75, Duncan
o Lakeside Ranger District: 2022 W. White Mtn. Blvd., Lakeside
o Springerville Ranger District: 165 S. Mountain Ave., Springerville
• Kaibab National Forest
o Supervisor's Office: 800 South 6th St., Williams
o North Kaibab Ranger District: 430 S. Main St., Fredonia
o Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center: Hwy. 67 and 89A, Jacob Lake
o Tusayan Ranger District: 176 Lincoln Log Loop, Grand Canyon
o Williams Ranger District: 742 S. Clover Rd., Williams
• Coconino National Forest
o Supervisor's Office: 1824 S. Thompson St., Flagstaff
o Flagstaff Ranger District: 5075 N. Hwy. 89, Flagstaff
o Blue Ridge Ranger District: 8738 Ranger Rd., Happy Jack
• Prescott National Forest
o Bradshaw Ranger District: 344 S. Cortez St., Prescott
o Chino Valley Ranger District: 735 N. Hwy. 89, Chino Valley
o Verde Ranger District: 300 E. Hwy. 260, Camp Verde