Monongahela National Forest Christmas Tree Permit

Monongahela National Forest

Monongahela National Forest Christmas Tree Permit on www.recreation.gov

https://www.recreation.gov/tree-permits/659ceb41-ec5d-11ea-8045-369699f3be2d

Create special memories by bringing your family to the Monongahela National Forest to cut your own Christmas tree. A permit is required to cut a Christmas tree in designated areas of Monongahela National Forest. One permit is allowed per household and is limited to one tree per permit. 

Please carefully review the information provided below. If you have additional questions, Forest Service employees can provide up-to-date information about road and trail conditions and suggest areas where you can cut a tree. Our phone numbers are listed near the bottom of this page.

Need to Know

Selecting Your Tree

Make sure you are not on private land and either in permitted areas of the Greenbrier Ranger District or outside of prohibited areas on the Marlinton/White Sulphur Ranger Districts. 

• Select a tree with needles, like pine or hemlock. Do not cut any hardwood trees, such as oak or maple.

• Do not cut an isolated tree growing out in the open. Choose a tree from a dense grouping to give remaining trees space to grow.

• Do not cut trees within 100 feet of any road.

• No tree greater than 4 inches diameter at breast height (4.5 feet) or taller than 12 feet may be cut.

• Cut the stump as close to the ground as possible.

• Take the whole tree of correct size for your home. Do not cut a larger tree than you need and then just take the top. 

• 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

Christmas tree cutting is only allowed on the Greenbrier, Marlinton and White Sulphur Ranger Districts. See maps.

• Permits are District specific. You cannot purchase a permit for the Greenbrier District and use it to cut a tree on the Marlinton District. Be sure to know where you are going to cut your tree and buy a permit for that Ranger District.

• Do not cut on private land, in Wildernesses, designated campgrounds, special areas, recreation sites or existing tree plantations. 

• Do not cut in active timber sales or areas that have been planted with new trees. 

• Be aware that private property is intermixed with National Forest System lands throughout much of Monongahela National Forest. Do not trespass onto private property when cutting your tree. Private property is shown in white on the maps. Look for and respect private property signage.

• Motor vehicles are only allowed on existing roads that are open to the public motor vehicle use. No off-road travel is allowed. Be prepared to hike to find a tree and have the ability to get it back to your vehicle. If it snows, Forest roads are not plowed so check conditions and be prepared.

• Park safely off the roadway and do not block gates.

Planning Your Trip

Helpful Cutting Tips

Bring 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.

• Cut the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them.

• 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 before securely tying it to your vehicle. 

• Sign and date your permit before transporting the tree. Be prepared to show your permit to a Forest Officer.

• Once home, cut the bottom of the trunk off and place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket of water. Replenish 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.

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. 

• Print your permit at home and bring the hard copy with you on your tree cutting adventure. Display the printed permit on the dashboard of your vehicle. 

• Print and take with you the Christmas Tree Cutting Area map of the area in which you plan to cut your tree.

• Check the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources webpage to see if any hunting seasons are open when you plan to be in the woods. https://wvdnr.gov/hunting-seasons/ For example, deer season (buck firearms) is typically the week of and the week following Thanksgiving. Protect yourself by wearing a blaze orange outer garment of at least 400 square inches or reschedule your Christmas tree trip. (Put blaze orange on your dog, too!)

• Cell service is spotty or unavailable on much of the Monongahela. Be sure someone knows where you are going 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, Google Maps or other general mapping apps because they 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.

• Forest Roads are not 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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