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Christmas tree permits available

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The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests is now selling Forest Service Christmas tree permits. A permit allows the public to cut a Christmas tree for personal use on national forest system lands as authorized on the permit.

Tree cutters must have a valid permit with them while cutting a tree. Permits are $8 per tree and come with information explaining regulations and helpful tips. Some areas of the forest are restricted from cutting trees and these are depicted on available maps. No cutting is permitted in campgrounds or other recreation/facility sites, in wilderness and/or near lakes, streams or in wetland areas.

Also this year, as part of the More Kids in a Park (MKIP) program, students with a valid fourth grade pass or paper voucher are able to receive a free permit to cut a Christmas tree on the national forest. The fourth grade free permits are ONLY able to be acquired at Forest Service offices. This is a great opportunity for a family outing and to get outdoors. More information on how fourth graders can obtain a MKIP pass is available at: www.everykidinapark.gov.

Forest Service Christmas tree permits are available in Delta at the USFS office at 2250 Highway 50, in Hotchkiss at Weekender Sports, 141 W. Bridge Street, in Montrose at the Montrose Public Lands Center, 2465 S. Townsend Avenue, in Paonia at the ranger district office on North Rio Grande Avenue or the Paonia Flower Shop, 301 Grand Avenue.

Please plan ahead and be prepared for winter conditions and keep vehicles on the road (or appropriate parking area). Some walking through snow may be necessary to get your tree; wear warm clothes and boots. Pack emergency supplies, carry the appropriate map and leave word with friends or relatives of your planned destination. Vehicles equipped for winter conditions with four-wheel drive, snow tires or chains are encouraged. Start early, since winter days are shorter. Many national forest roads are not plowed for snow removal and even if backcountry roads are not blocked by snow, ice conditions may exist. Please be aware of standing dead trees that could fall and/or drop branches, causing severe injury. Citizens are urged to avoid and/or use extreme caution in these areas, particularly in areas affected by spruce beetle and other bark beetles.

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