Cut Your Own Christmas Tree and Help Restoration Efforts At The Same Time!

The Deschutes National Forest is full of white and grand firs that make perfect Christmas trees. Plus, they’re local and as organic as it gets. Don’t know what a white fir or grand fir tree looks like, click here. Our friends at Deschutes Land Trust also have a handy quick reference guide to trees found in Central Oregon.

Where to start?!

Here are the basics you need to know:

First, you’ll need a $5 Christmas tree permit to cut your tree, which you can purchase online or in-person from a local vendor:

Head for the Deschutes national forest! You can go anywhere within the national forest so the only restraints are your ideas! Remember: dress appropriately for the conditions and make sure you’ve got snacks, drinks, a good hand saw, your permit, and rope or bungee cords to tie your tree down.

  • Make sure you know what white and grand firs looks like before you head out (click here for quick ID tips).
  • Have fun exploring the forest and hunting for your favorite tree!
  • Once you find your perfect tree, make sure it’s at least 150 feet from main roads, campgrounds, and recreation sites, with a trunk no larger than 6 inches in diameter. Please cut your tree no more than six inches above the ground to keep the stump low. 
  • Finally: haul your tree out to your vehicle, affix your permit in a visible location and make sure you secure the tree with your rope or bungee cords.

How this helps restoration:

You are helping make our forests healthier when you bring home your Christmas tree!  Give yourself a pat on the back. That’s right: after nearly a century of fighting to keep naturally occurring, low-intensity fires out of our forests, many of our ponderosa pine forests in Central Oregon are becoming overgrown with small and medium sized white fir trees. Basically, there are too many trees in the forest which causes unhealthy wildlife, trees and shrubbery. Some places in the Deschutes National forest have nearly 160 trees per acre where 30-60 trees per acre is what is considered to be “healthy.”

Harvesting trees that meet permit specifications reduces the hazardous fuel loads in the forest by thinning out smaller trees. This allows mid-size and large trees to grow big and strong. Which is essential to making our forests more resilient to catastrophic wildfire. Reducing smaller trees in the forest reduces “fuel ladders” which is when small, medium and large trees are all close together (think AT&T, raising the bar ) and can carry fire all the way up to the crown (top) of the larger old trees.

Thinning trees out of the Deschutes national forest is essential to prevent future catastrophic wildfire and reduce hazardous fuel loads (aka your Christmas tree, if left in the ground, can fuel a mega fire!) That’s where you come in; by cutting your own white fir Christmas tree you’re playing part of the role that natural fires used to play and helping restore our forests – one Christmas tree at a time.

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(c) 2023 Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project