Top Five Reasons to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree this Holiday Season

Top Five Reasons to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree this Holiday Season

Written by Pete Caligiuri with The Nature Conservancy and Sarah Mowry with the Deschutes Land Trust. Photos courtesy of Jay Mather. 

Holiday season is in the air and with it the age-old tradition of decking the halls with a beautiful Christmas tree. But rather than buy one of those cookie-cutter trees grown in the Willamette Valley (often with herbicides and pesticides) and shipped over to Central Oregon, why not grab friends and family and head into Central Oregon’s backyard? If you’re looking for your next Christmas tree or decorative boughs and cones for wreaths or holiday swags, look no further than our own Deschutes National Forest.

Here are five reasons why you should don your warm clothes, pack some snacks and a thermos of hot chocolate, grab your hand saw, and head for the forest to cut your own Christmas tree.

#1 Who said anything about a Charlie Brown Christmas tree?

The Deschutes National Forest is full of white and grand firs that make perfect Christmas trees. Plus, they’re local and they’re 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.

#2 Cutting your own Christmas tree is F.U.N.

What better activity than exploring our forests with friends and family. Shouts of “Oh! How about this one?”… “I found it!”… or, in the infamous words of Clark Griswold, “There it is. The Griswold family Christmas tree!” Whether you venture out on your own, with your besties, or your family we’re sure this will become an annual tradition that you look forward to for years to come.

#3 It’s easy to cut your own Christmas tree

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:

  • Bend: Bi-Mart, Powder House, Butler Market South, and Lovejoy’s Brookswood Market, Ace Hardware, Visit Bend, Project Bike, REI, and Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • Sisters: Bi-Mart, Mainline Station, Ace Hardware, Sisters Rental, and the Sisters Ranger District office
  • Sunriver: Summit Xpress, Sunriver Resort, and Camp Abbot Ace Hardware
  • La Pine: Bi-Mart and Quikstop Mart
  • Prineville: Bi-Mart and R & R Grocery
  • Madras: Bi-Mart
  • Redmond: Bi-Mart and Coastal Farm & Ranch

Head for the national forest! 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, explore, listen to the birds, throw snowballs, BE MERRY!
  • Find the perfect tree. Tall, but not too tall. Not too sparse, not too full. Walk around the whole tree and check to see if it has “the look” you’re after and will fit in your living room (i.e., don’t pull a Griswold!)
  • 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. Note: don’t forget to yell TIMBERRRRR!!!
  • 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. After all, you don’t want to arrive home only to discover you lost that beauty on the side of the road during the drive!

#4 Help spread the word

We need everyone to know why forest restoration is important and that we can all do our part; even in small ways like cutting a Christmas tree. So make sure you tell your friends and family about the experience, how much fun you had, and what you learned about forest restoration. And if anyone asks, “Why’s your tree look funny?” tell them it’s a small price to pay for a healthier forest.

#5 One tree at a time

And here’s the best part: you’ll be helping make our forests healthier when you bring one home as your next Christmas tree! 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. Historically these white firs would have been kept at bay by the frequency of the natural fires that kept our pine forests healthy. 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. How cool is that?!

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(c) 2023 Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project