Christmas tree cutting permits are on sale beginning November 21 and are conveniently on line at Recreation.gov and at two of the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands (NNFG) District Offices: the Pine Ridge and Bessey Ranger Districts in Chadron and Halsey, respectively. The $10 permit entitles the purchaser to harvest one ponderosa pine or Eastern red cedar, measuring up to 20 feet tall. Maps are available on-line or attached to the permits purchased in the offices to identify selected areas for tree harvest for both of the Ranger Districts and Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest.
The permits are available online at Recreation.gov for $10 plus a $2.50 processing fee, or at the following offices for $10 Monday through Friday:
• Supervisor Office/Pine Ridge Office at 125 N. Main Street in Chadron, NE 8:00 – 4:30 MST.
• Bessey Office at 40637 River Loop Road near Halsey, NE 8:30-5:00 CST. PLEASE NOTE: permits at the Bessey Ranger District are only being sold on-line or at the office. People can call 308-533-2257, or come to the office to get a permit.
The on-line Recreation.gov site has very specific instructions and maps on where to cut, tree selection, tips on how to cut and transport them. It is important to carefully read the overview, need-to-know information prior to purchasing. Trees must be for personal use, not for resale. Permits from online sales must be printed and displayed on the dash of the vehicle. Tags purchased in person must be clearly displayed around the stem of the tree before leaving the cutting area.
The Forest Service is the official featured agency to celebrate the Every Kid in a Park Initiative for November and December. Fourth graders that have a Every Kid Outdoors pass are eligible for a free Christmas tree permit. Apply for the free permit by entering the pass or voucher number with your purchase. If your fourth grader does not have a Every Kid Outdoors pass, they can obtain one via this link: Every Kid Outdoors web site. Or if 4th graders would rather visit a District Office, print the paper voucher and bring it with you to a District Office or the Supervisor’s Office on the NNFG.
The adhesive permit tag must be attached before a tree is removed from the cutting area, or if purchased on-line it must be displayed on the dashboard of your vehicle. A citation can be issued for possession of a cut-but-untagged tree, even if a tag is available in person or in your vehicle.
Trees should be placed in water as soon as possible to help keep needles fresh. Once indoors, trees should be placed away from stoves, heaters, or heating ducts. After Christmas, used trees should be disposed of properly as yard waste. Do not dump used trees on national forest land.
Only areas designated on the permit map are open to Christmas tree cutting. Areas excluded from cutting include all wilderness areas, campgrounds, administration sites, National Recreation Areas, Research Natural Area, and around Pine Ridge Job Corps. For more information, please visit our website.