Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Christmas Tree Permit

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit! 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. 

Be prepared to drive on dirt or graveled roads. During wet, snowy weather the Forest Service closes some roads to help prevent road damage.

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

Need to Know

Where to Cut Your Tree

Permit holders may choose from varieties of pine, fir or cedar, in designated cutting areas, and must abide by specific permit conditions for proper and responsible collection.

Permit holders should keep vehicles on National Forest System roads and are reminded to park safely off the roadway in legal areas. No off-road travel is allowed.

In addition to the traditional experience, the permitted collection of smaller diameter trees, with a trunk of six inches in diameter or less, from selected areas contributes to the reduction of over-growth, particularly among firs, which are also the most sought after varieties for the holidays.

Permit holders should follow permit guidelines for responsible collection, including respecting private property by not trespassing onto private property when entering or leaving National Forest cutting areas. 

Observe seasonal road closures and be prepared to hike to the cutting area to find a tree. No off-road travel is allowed. Park in legal areas and do not block gates.  

Weather permitting, some National Forest roads may remain open to improve access to cutting areas. Some gated roads will be closed as conditions warrant to protect public safety and provide resource protection. 

Cutting area maps are provided via the "maps" link on this page for downloading to your device. Christmas tree cutting is only allowed in designated cutting areas.

The Christmas tree area cutting map is a part of your permit, and must be in your possession or accessible from your device when cutting your Christmas tree. 

See the Lake Tahoe Basin Christmas Tree Maps QR Code, in the "maps" link. These maps are georeferenced for optional use in the Avenza mapping app.

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. 

Stump height: 6 inches maximum

Stump diameter: 6 inches maximum

Do not cut isolated trees growing in the open. Trees to cut must be within 10 feet of another green tree.

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.

Planning Your Trip

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. 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.

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.

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.

We don't recommend bringing your pets but, if you do, they must be on a leash.

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. 

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.

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.

Choose a tree from a dense forested area, which will give the remaining trees more space to grow.

Cut the leftover branches from the stump and scatter them.

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