Chop your own Christmas tree from the Umatilla National Forest

Umatilla National Forest
Image credit: U.S. Forest Service - Umatilla National Forest, Facebook

PENDLETON, Ore. — For many families in the Northwest, gathering a fresh Christmas tree from the region’s vast forestland is a beloved annual tradition. For the low price of just $5, you can obtain a permit to chop down a tree from the Umatilla National Forest to celebrate the holiday season.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, you can purchase a Christmas Tree permit at various locations across Northeast Oregon or Southeast Washington at a low cost. Please note that one of these permits is required before embracing your inner Paul Bunyan this Christmas!

You may purchase a U.S. Forest Service Christmas tree permit at any Umatilla National Forest Office or at the following local businesses:

  • Kennewick, WA: Farmer’s Exchange & Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • Pendleton, OR: D&B Supply BiMart & Southgate Minimart
  • Pasco, WA: Columbia Grain and Feed
  • Hermiston, OR: Smitty’s Ace Supply & Ace Hardware
  • Walla Walla, WA: Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • Milton-Freewater, OR: Zip Zone II
  • Dayton, WA: The General Store
  • Boardman, OR: Ace Hardware
  • Pomeroy, WA: Pomeroy Foods
  • Clarkston, WA: Schurman’s Tru-Value Hardware & Hells Canyon NRA Office
  • Heppner, OR: Heppner Mobil
  • Pilot Rock, OR: Mentzer & Elliott & J&D’s Foodmart
  • Tollgate, OR: Alpine Outpost
  • Elgin, OR: Elgin Food Town
  • Athena, OR: Athena Convenience
  • Ukiah, OR: Rhode’s Supply

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If you’re planning to chop your town tree, you must consider some key factors before taking the trip into the forest. Here are the guidelines as provided by the Forest Service:

  • Clean up any trimmings or limbs.
  • Leave stumps no higher than 10 inches. It is illegal to “top” a tree.
  • Cut off any green limbs left on the stump (these can be used for decorating greens).
  • The maximum height of tree to be cut is 14 feet tall.
  • Do not cut in active timber sales or areas that have been planted with new trees.
  • Do not cut on private land, in wilderness areas, designated campgrounds, or existing tree plantations.
  • Do not cut trees within 200 feet of Bluewood or Spout Springs Ski Areas, summer home sites, Tollgate Work Center, or Forest Service Guard Stations.
  • Christmas tree cutting in the Tollgate Area on the Walla Walla Ranger District can be challenging after December 1, when most Forest roads close for the winter. After Dec. 1, snowmobiling or snowshoeing will be your only access onto most roads off Hwy 204.
  • Christmas tree cutting on the Pomeroy Ranger District is prohibited on Park and Cook Ridges, and in the Lick Creek area, including Sheep Creek, Cabin, Capehorn and Mud Springs ridges. You may encounter road closures during logging operations. Please abide by these closures.

Whether you’re building a new holiday tradition or continuing an old one, this is an excellent bonding opportunity for the whole family!

If you’re interested in reading more about how to chop your tree from the Umatilla National Forest safely and effectively, click here.

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