SHERIDAN — Cutting your own Christmas tree can be an enjoyable experience for the entire family. If you would like to make this part of your holiday tradition, Bighorn National Forest Christmas tree permits will be available beginning Nov. 6.
Christmas tree permits are available at Bighorn National Forest offices in Buffalo, Greybull and Sheridan, which are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. The cost for a permit is $8 for a tree up to 10 feet tall. Cutting a larger tree requires the purchase of additional permits.
In support of the White House’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, the Bighorn National Forest will offer one free Christmas tree permit to fourth-graders who present a valid Every Kid in a Park pass. The Every Kid in a Park initiative aims to help develop a generation that will help care for public lands. The program provides a free pass to all fourth-grade students who go to www.everykidinapark.gov and complete the online application. The Christmas tree permit is good for trees under 10 feet and the fourth-grader must be present when the permit is issued.
Those wanting durable Every Kid in a Park passes can exchange their paper voucher at any Bighorn National Forest office. Pass rules and instructions can be found on the program’s website.
Christmas tree permits can also be purchased by mail. Simply complete the form that is available on the Bighorn’s website at http:1.usa.gov/1sV55F7, mail it with your check or money order to your local ranger district office, and a permit and a copy of the regulations will be mailed to you.
Rules and regulations apply, so please follow the instructions that come with the permit. Here are some of the rules:
• Trees may not be cut in the Cloud Peak Wilderness; marked timber sales; within 300 feet of campgrounds, lodges, summer homes, private land, and ranger stations; or within 100 feet of highways.
• On the Powder River Ranger District, trees may not be harvested along Forest Service Road 19 or along U.S. Highway 16 from the eastern Bighorn National Forest boundary to the Hettinger Group Area sign.
• The required tag must be attached to the tree before it is transported.
• Off-road travel restrictions are in effect throughout the Bighorn National Forest: motorized travel is allowed only on routes designated as open to motor vehicles.
• When cutting a tree, stumps must be cut 6 inches or less, and it is important to keep roadways clear of debris and slash.
• Individuals may be cut up to 10 branches from the lowest portion of standing trees at no charge. Additional branches will require purchasing a permit.
USFS officials also advise people to be careful when driving in winter weather and use extra caution with saws and axes.
If you have questions about cutting a Christmas tree in the national forest, stop in or call any Bighorn National Forest office. The telephone number for the Tongue Ranger District office in Sheridan is 307-674-2600.