Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Christmas Tree Permit

Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within the national forests of Montana and Northern Idaho! Lifelong memories are built during these special times and we are happy to help with any information gathering you'll need to make this trip a safe and enjoyable one. 

Please be sure to read and agree to all the tips and guidelines when selecting your tree.

Need to Know

Selecting Your Tree

Each forest has limitations on the size of the tree you can cut and the species of trees that are permitted. See below to help you measure and choose a tree that meets your permit's guidelines. 

Tree Height: 12 feet maximum.

Stump height: 6 inches maximum. Remove and scatter all limbs from the portion of the tree you leave behind.

No cutting of 5 needle pines. (i.e. 5 needles in one cluster)

Take the whole tree. Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down the entire tree.

If snow is on the ground, remove it from around the stump so you can accurately measure the stump and tree height. 

Where to Cut Your Tree

Your permit allows you to cut Christmas trees on National Forest land in Montana and Northern Idaho.

Do not cut on private land, in wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, or posted timber sales. 

Please cut your Christmas tree from an overcrowded stand of trees in meadows. 

Do not cut trees within 100 feet of main roads, streams, or recreation sites. 

Planning Your Trip

Helpful Cutting Tips

Carry your tree carefully out of the woods. Dragging the tree will rub off needles and bark. 

If the tree is too big to transport inside of your vehicle, wrap it in canvas to prevent wind damage. 

Tools you might want to consider bringing with you include a measuring tape to ensure you select a tree that fits in your home; handsaw to cut your tree; gloves to protect your hands; boots to protect your feet; a tarp to sit on and/or to move your tree once it's cut; and rope or straps to secure your tree to your vehicle.

Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Keep your tree in a 50/50 sugar/water solution. Occationally mist your tree with water. 

If storing your tree outside for a few days before putting it in the house, keep it in an area protected from the wind, such as the north or east side of your house or under a shaded tree.

Be aware of potential fire hazards in your house and keep them away from your tree. Place your tree in a location away from heat vents, fireplaces, and wood stoves.

How to Plan Your Trip

Before you leave home, be sure to measure the space where you plan to place the tree in your home (height and width), and measure the space in your vehicle where you will be transporting the tree.

Cell service may be spotty or unavailable. Be sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back.

Check the latest weather conditions, forest warnings and road closures before you leave on your trip.

Bring a map with you. Don’t rely on GPS because it may not be up-to-date with forest service roads.

Dress warmly and take extra dry clothes. Expect winter weather, including cold temperatures, snow and winds.

Roads may not be plowed. Carry tire chains, shovel(s) and a tow chain. Be sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. Bring a spare key and give it to someone else in your party. Don’t get locked out of your car! Park in areas so that traffic can get by safely, and do not block gates.

Bring plenty of food and water with you as well as an overnight survival kit in case you become stranded. Start your day early. Be sure to find your tree and leave the woods before dark.

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