The status of Christmas tree cutting permits at Colorado’s national forests

Maddie Oxley of Denver, left, and her brother, Nelson, pull their freshly cut family Christmas tree back to the car while their mother Kelly looks on in the Elk Creek cutting area of the Arapaho National Forest near Fraser in 2012. (Andy Cross, Denver Post file)

Front Range families that make a Thanksgiving weekend tradition of picking out and cutting down their own Christmas trees will have to wait a while longer for details of this year’s program in two national forests affected by the Williams Fork, East Troublesome and Cameron Peak wildfires.

Officials of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests are still evaluating cutting locations in the aftermath of fires that burned more than 417,000 acres in those forests and Rocky Mountain National Park, according to Donna Nemeth, press officer for the forest service’s Rocky Mountain region.

The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests generally lie along the Continental Divide from Jefferson County to the Wyoming border, excluding Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits in those areas are not yet for sale.

“Their process is still in the works and they don’t have an answer just yet,” Nemeth said. “When you buy your permit, they give you a map of the locations where you can go in and legally cut. Until they identify if they are going to open it up for safe Christmas tree cutting, and where those areas are, they can’t purchase a permit.”

Officials of the White River National Forest, which takes in Summit County along with areas around Vail, Aspen and Glenwood Springs, have published their guidelines. Rules are also available for the Pike National Forest, which generally stretches from Colorado Springs to the Fairplay area, and the San Isabel National Forest, which is located south and west of the Pike including the Collegiate Peaks, Monarch Pass and the Salida area.

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For the White River National Forest, permits went on sale Sunday. The cost is$10 with a limit of five permits per person, and permits can be purchased online. Go to recreation.gov and type “White River National Forest Christmas Tree Permit” in the search bar. There you will find a list of rules, maps and helpful tips. Permits also will be for sale at nine public vendors in mountain communities. The forest has an information page on its website.

Permits are also on sale for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. Permit prices vary from district to district, ranging from $10-$20. Permit sales are through recreation.gov, and there is an information page on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests website.

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