Walt Mares File Photo/Gila Herald: It has been at least five years since there has been a heavy snowfall, such as what covers this tree at Gila Health Resources in Morenci. It can serve as a reminder how people with a vivid imagination can decorate their harvested Christmas trees now available in the Apache National Forest. Tree permits are now on sale. This photo was taken in November 2013.
Add to the scent of the holiday at home
By Walt Mares
APACHE-SITREAVES – Christmas is fast approaching with only three weeks to go before it is here. As is the tradition for so many families, a real Christmas tree makes the festive season all the more meaningful.
The odor from a real tree that fills a household is something special. Harvesting one’s own Christmas tree is a sure way to get in the holiday spirit, fill your home with that fresh forest scent, and create lasting memories.
That extra something is being made possible by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. While all districts on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are selling Christmas Tree permits, folks in Greenlee County do not have to travel far for that something special. The Apache Forest covers about two-thirds of the county and it has the nearby Clifton Ranger Station to accommodate those seeking a tree.
“For many families, venturing into the National Forest to cut their Christmas tree is a treasured tradition carried on for generations,” said Forest Supervisor Anthony Madrid. “This tradition also helps to improve our forests’ health. The permit system identifies areas of the ASNFs with densely populated stands of small-diameter trees that will benefit from thinning trees. Removing these trees, which tend to be the perfect size for Christmas trees, helps other trees grow larger and can open areas that provide forage for wildlife.”
Madrid issued a reminder for tree harvesters to carry the permit and/or tree tag on the tree as soon as it has been cut. Cut only the tree species specified on the permit and only cut in the area designated on the permit and map. An armload of green branches for decorations may be taken along with your tree as part of this permit.
He said people are also welcome to pick up pinecones for decorations. After all, what is a Christmas scene without real pine cones? They, too, carry, a distinctive and pleasant fragrance. Picking up pine cones is an ideal fun activity for children.
How to Purchase a Permit
Madrid said that this year a new online purchasing method was created to add convenience for visitors and provide an alternative to in-person transactions at offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forest Service is encouraging community members, and visitors to purchase their permits on Recreation.gov when possible. Permits may still be obtained by mail or on-site from any district office on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The cost of one Christmas Tree Permit is $15 and sales will run through Dec. 24, 2020. There are no refunds.
To purchase a Christmas Tree permit online, visit Recreation.gov and search for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Christmas Tree Permits. A $2.50 processing fee will be applied to each transaction. It is important to carefully read the overview and need-to-know information before purchasing the permit. Visitors will also need to set up or log in to a Recreation.gov account to complete the transaction.
Purchase by Mail
For a Christmas tree permit by mail, include a check or money order and a self-addressed stamped envelope. If purchasing more than one permit, increase the postage by 55 cents for each additional permit. Make the check or money order payable to USDA Forest Service and send it to the desired district office. The returned self-addressed envelope will include the permit, tree tag, cutting instructions, and a map of the authorized cutting areas. Please see the district office addresses below.
For a Christmas tree permit on-site, contact the desired district office for instructions on purchasing procedures as they may vary. Offices are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. There will be no extended weekend hours due to new online sale options.
Free permit for children with Park Pass
Fourth and fifth-grade students can get a free Christmas Tree through the Every Kid Outdoors Program by entering their pass ID on Recreation.gov. For additional information about the initiative and how to obtain a pass, visit www.everykidoutdoors.gov.
For questions, contact the Apache-Sitgreaves NF’s Supervisor’s Office at 928-333-6280 or visit the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/asnf.