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.
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.
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.
Here are the basics you need to know:
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.
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.
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?!