|Maintenance crews hoist Price city's Christmas tree into place at the Peace Garden on Main Street. Local residents should comply with established guidelines while selecting and cutting the perfect holiday tree.|
For many families in Carbon County, the next step after putting the Thanksgivings turkey in the fridge and hitting the Black Friday sales is getting a Christmas tree.
While many families have artificial trees or get their trees from tree lots, many families observe the tradition of going into the forest and finding the perfect tree.
Searching for the perfect holiday symbol can be a fun and recreational activity, but tree cutters should be aware of restrictions in place for cutting evergreens on federal lands.
The United States Forest Service oversees a program for cutting trees within national forests.
Similarly, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees tree cutting on public parcels the agency administers.
Permits are required and specific guidelines must be followed. Information regarding guidelines and allowed cutting areas is available at the time permits are purchased.
Whether a tree is purchased from a tree lot or cut in a forest, finding the perfect tree is a daunting task. Michael Kuhns, forestry specialist for Utah State University Extension offers the following tips for finding the right tree:
Before heading out to find a tree, homeowners are encouraged to measure the area in their home where the tree will be placed.
People should measure both width and ceiling height. In addition. local residents should remember that several inches will be cut from the butt end, but the stand will add several inches to the tree's overall height.
To ensure that the tree will remain evergreen through the holidays, check for freshness and moistness. This is particularly important when purchasing a cut tree from a tree lot. Once needles become dry, they usually stay dry - even when the tree is placed in a stand with water. The best way to ensure that a tree is fresh is to buy from a local grower or from a known and trusted retailer. Trees shipped to Christmas tree lots from out of state may be fresh, but some can be old and dry.
Gently pull on several needles to check for freshness. If many come off, look for another tree. At a tree lot, lift the tree and strike the butt end on the ground. If many needles fall from the twigs, the tree is probably not fresh. Buyers can also break a few needles to see if they are moist and fragrant. Don't worry if old unattached needles have accumulated inside the crown. Though these needles can be messy, they do not indicate a poor tree and can easily be removed. Fir and pine trees hold needles better than spruce trees.
Check the color. Some trees at tree lots are sprayed with blue-green dye. Though the dye can be harmless, it can be hiding a dry tree.
Be sure tree limbs are strong enough to support lights and ornaments. Limbs should also be well placed to give the tree a pleasing shape. Minor defects in the tree can often be turned toward a wall and can also lower the purchase price.
Once a fresh tree is brought home, re-cut a thin section from the butt end and place the tree in a pail of water. Prior to decorating a tree, keep the tree outside and away from sun and wind so it does not become dry. When it's time to decorate the tree, cut the butt end again if it has been stored more than three or four days. This cut section can be hung with a ribbon and made into an ornament by marking the rings with significant years in your family's history. Most sections will have seven to 10 growth rings.
Once inside, the tree should be placed in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. A fresh tree can lose this much or more water a day. To avoid Christmas tree fires, place the tree away from heaters, furnace vents, televisions and other heat sources.
Lights on the tree should be UL-approved and protected by an inline fuse. Small pinpoint lights work well because they stay cool. Don't be sentimental about old Christmas tree lights. Old lights with cracked insulation or loose sockets should be discarded. Turn lights off when the tree is unattended. Flammable decorations should not be used on a Christmas tree with electric lights. Candles should never be used to light a Christmas tree or wreath.
A fresh tree that is watered daily can stay moist and safe for several weeks. If a tree is displayed in a public building, it should be kept no longer than 15 days and should be treated with a fire retardant solution.
Christmas trees can be useful even after they are taken down. Trees can be placed in the yard to add greenery and act as a bird haven until spring. They can also be used for firewood or chopped and used as mulch.
Choose-and-cut trees are available from Christmas tree growers throughout Utah. Use the same selection tips to buy a choose-and-cut tree as you would a pre-cut tree. Some growers will cut the tree for you, and others will have you cut your own.
Beyond Kuhns' suggestions, certain guidelines are applicable for those cutting trees on public lands.
When cutting trees in national forests, individuals should clear snow around the base of the tree. Trees must be cut close to the ground, leaving stumps no taller than six inches from ground level. Tree topping is strictly prohibited. Permits must be attached to cut trees prior to leaving the cutting area.
In selecting an area, individuals should select a site at least 200 feet from a road, campground, picnic area, administrative site, summer home area or riparian area, such as a lake or stream. Other prohibited areas are indicated on maps which can be obtained from the national forest office at the time a permit is purchased.
Further, the USFS reminds those with permits to be prepared for winter weather. As permit holders enter remote areas, they should be prepared for slick roads and have chains and a four wheel drive vehicle. Snow machines, cross country skis and snow shoes may be useful in getting from vehicles to the actual cutting site. Permit holders are also advised to let friends or family know where they are going and when they plan to return.
Those entering remote areas should be prepared with extra clothing, gloves, boots, water and food. They should also carry additional equipment such as a flashlight, chains, shovel, first aid kit and waterproof matches. Finally, permit holders should bring a hatchet, ax or handsaw and a rope to secure their tree.
Guidelines for cutting trees on BLM land are available at the time permits are purchased. Permits are $5 each and can be purchased at the Price field office, located at 125 South 600 West. If individuals are interested in obtaining a permit in areas not administered by the Price office, they are encouraged to contact the appropriate BLM field office. Permits are limited to one per family. However, up to three additional permits may be purchased if different names and addresses are provided for each permit. Maps showing designated cutting areas are available at the field office.
To obtain a permit to cut trees within the national forest, tree cutters should contact the administrative office or ranger district office which oversees a particular national forest. For the Manti-LaSal National Forest, permits can be obtained from the administrative office, located at 599 West Price River Drive in Price, or the Ferron Ranger District Office, located at 115 West Canyon Road. Interested parties can contact the Price office at (435) 637-2817 or the Ferron office (435) 384-2372. Permit went on sales for the Manti LaSal National Forest on Nov. 20.The cost is $5, with a limit of one permit per household and one tree per permit. Permit holders can cut any species of tree except ponderosa pine. The Price and Ferron offices are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Permits can also be obtained from the Sanpete Ranger district starting Nov. 25 will be available at select locations. Those interested in obtaining a permit in the Sanpete district should contact the ranger district office at (435) 283-4151.
For individuals looking to get more than one tree, a trip to the Moab or Monticello Ranger District may be in order. Since Monday, permits have been available for $5 each with a limit of four permits per person. Cutting is limited to sub-alpine fir, white fir pinyon pine and juniper trees. For more information, contact the Moab office at (435) 259-7155 or the Monticello office at (435) 587-2041.