The Forest Service is reminding those who trek through national forests in search of a perfect holiday tree to put safety as the first item on their Christmas lists. “The best gift to give yourself and your family is a safe quest for your holiday tree in our national forests,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “When setting out to find your tree, be aware of all changing weather conditions, dress accordingly, and always adhere to safe tree cutting practices.” Each year, local Forest Service offices sell permits that allow individuals to cut one fresh tree on national forest lands. Fees for the permits vary dependent on location. The permit program helps the agency thin stands that have a concentration of small diameter trees. Reminders and tips for cutting your tree: – Always tell a friend when you are taking a trip into the forest – Remember to take your permit, a map with you to your forest location, dress warmly, keep your car with a full tank of gas. Have tire chains if necessary and don’t forget to bring a rope and tarp to transport your tree home – Select a tree that is six inches or less in diameter, and prepare to cut the tree close to the ground at six inches or less – Put on eye protection and heavy duty work gloves – Decide in which direction you want the tree to fall. Make sure the direction you choose is clear of any and all obstacles, including power lines and vehicles – Use handsaws and shears — chainsaws are prohibited – Make the back cut by standing to the side and away from the trunk. – Step away as soon as the tree begins to fall Contact your local Forest Service office or visit their website on how to obtain your permit and for cutting method guidelines. The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world
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