Cut Your Own Christmas Tree in Tahoe

WHO: TMS Tech Guy Todd and friend Hillary

WHAT: Cutting a Christmas tree

WHERE: Tahoe National Forest

WHEN: December 17, 2010

GEAR: snowshoes, headlamp, kerosene lantern (for old-fashioned ambiance), Klean Kanteen Insulated Bottle filled with hot chocolate and brandy, and most importantly – a saw

Christmas tree collage

Did you know that for just $10 you can get a Holiday Tree Permit from the U.S. Forest Service that allows you to cut your own Christmas tree on National Forest land in the Tahoe Basin? I actually had no idea until this winter. It turns out that all you have to do is drop by one of the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit offices and pick up a permit. Not only does this give people the traditional experience of venturing out and cutting down their own holiday Tannenbaum, it also helps the forest. Cutting down small bushy firs, pines and cedars aids in creating defensible space by removing potential fire ladders.

I got my permit a week before Christmas and the extended forecast was showing snow all week long. The sun had already gone down but the moonlight was glowing through the clouds. It was now or never.

It was a nice night for a moonlit snowshoe hike. Armed with a kerosene lantern and a saw we set out towards my old neighborhood. Having lived the summer in this neck of the woods I knew it pretty well. Granted, it looked totally different covered in snow. We hiked about half a mile into the forest and then scouted around for the perfect candidate to fell.

Picking the right tree is trickier than one might think. Not only does it need to look good, there are also certain criteria that it needs to meet in order to satisfy the regulations on the permit. I won’t get into the details, but you can read the regulations if you wish. After nearly an hour of searching for the right tree we found a nice fir closely surrounded by a few other firs. Long story short, we cut it down, hauled it back to the car and brought it home.

Todd, Hillary, tree

Want to get a tree of your own? Permits will be issued until December 23 and cutting is permitted up until Christmas Day. Visit the LTBMU Holiday Tree Permit page for more details.



Todd Shimkus manages the technical web operations for Tahoe Mountain Sports, including tahoemountainsports.com and our web presence on other online marketplaces. When not behind the computer, Todd enjoys rock climbing, hiking and snowboarding.


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