SOUTHERN UTAH - After a weekend of Christmas shopping, families in Southern Utah are going Christmas “chopping.”
The Dixie National Forest Service opened up Christmas tree season early this year in November to try and relieve some of the heavy crowds it typically sees in December -- administrators say phones are ringing off the hook with people wanting pick out their own fresh tree.
“People have been getting Christmas trees off the National Forest lands probably since before there was a forest service,” said Joe Harris, Dixie National Forest public affairs officer. “It’s just a tradition that’s been going on.”
It’s a tradition that brings people from hundreds of miles away. Pryia Logan and Don Davidson drove from Las Vegas for their trees.
“Trees last longer, the house smells better,” Davidson said. “Most of the trees on the lot are cut months in advance. We just like the fresh pine smell in the house.”
Special regulations dictate what types of trees can be cut down in different areas of the forest. On Cedar Mountain it is legal to cut white fir, subalpine fir, pinion, and juniper. On the Powell and Escalante Ranger Districts, all tree species except bristlecone pine can be taken.
Permits cost $10 for trees up to 10 feet tall. Trees more than 10 feet cost $20. All the money generated from the Christmas tree program stays in Utah.
“It stays here on our forest and our recreation program. So it helps us out here,” Harris said. “It doesn’t go back to Washington DC.”
Permits can be purchased for cutting a Christmas tree for $10 for up to 10 feet or $20 for more than 10 feet.
Receipts from this special forest program go back into a local fund that directly benefits recreation users on the Dixie National Forest.
Tree permit purchase locations:
Cedar City Ranger District
-Cedar City District Office—1789 N. Wedgewood Lane, Cedar City
-Ace Hardware—165 S. Main Street, Cedar City
Escalante Ranger District
-Escalante Interagency Visitor Center—755 W. Main Street, Escalante
-Cottam’s 66—80 E. Main Street, Escalante
-Antimony Mercantile—70 Utah 22, Antimony
-Boulder Exchange—425 Utah 12, Boulder
-Clarke’s Market—141 N. Main Street, Tropic
Pine Valley Ranger District
-St. George Interagency Visitor Center—345 East Riverside Drive, St. George
-Veyo Mercantile—13 North Main Street, Veyo
Powell Ranger District
-Powell Ranger District Office—225 E. Center Street, Panguitch