By Monday, Utahns will be able to buy permits to cut their own Christmas trees in five of the six national forests in the state. The exception is Uinta National Forest, where permits are sold out.

Besides Manti-LaSal National Forest, based in Price, where sales start Monday, the remaining forests either have had permits on sale for a time or started to sell them Friday.

According to a Forest Service press release, trees must be cut close to the ground, leaving a stump no higher than 6 inches. Harvesters may need a shovel to dig through the show to reach the base. Christmas trees must be cut in specified areas, and the permit must be attached to the tree before it leaves the cutting area.

Sales have differing restrictions on what species of trees can be cut. The times when permits are offered and prices also vary.

"Tree topping is not allowed," emphasized the release. "Do not cut the top of trees, or cut down a large tree just to take the top."

All campgrounds, picnic areas, tree plantations and administrative sites are closed to Christmas tree cutting. Any tree taken must be at least 300 feet from any road.

"We sell 1,500 in two days," said Barbara Davis of Uinta National Forest, headquartered in Provo, explaining why permits are no longer available from that forest. Each day, 750 are offered, and each day, permits go in about an hour.

This snapping up of permits happens in the first part of November every year, she added. This time, the $10 permits were sold Nov. 4 and 5, with sales at Soldier Hollow, and most of the cutting designated for the Heber City area. "We just don't have that many trees," Davis explained.

Wasatch-Cache National Forest, headquartered in Salt Lake City, is not selling permits except for trees in the Evanston and Mountain View ranger districts.

The offices are in the Wyoming towns for which they are named, "but the cutting areas are back on the Utah side," explained Kathy Jo Pollock, spokeswoman for the forest. Permits cost $10, with a limit of one per family.

Barbara Bushell of the forest's Kamas District said that section of the forest has not sold Christmas tree permits for three years "because we've had a huge infestation with the pine beetle. We don't want people bringing the trees down because if the beetle's still in the tree, it'll kill any tree that it's around."

With the end of the lengthy drought, she said, the infestation is lessening. Pine beetles are quick to hit trees that are weakened by drought and other factors. Now, after a good water year, surviving trees are stronger.

"And we are doing measures to protect the trees that haven't been infested," Bushell said.

Permits also are available from:

• Manti-LaSal National Forest, which will be issuing permits as of Monday at the Price and Ferron, Emery County offices, open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. "It's first come, first served," said Pollock.

For more details, call forest headquarters in Price, 1-435-637-2817.

• Ashley National Forest. Permits may be purchased at the Flaming Gorge Ranger District offices in the Manila, Daggett County, area; Green River office; Flaming Gorge Lodge; Trout Creek Flies in Dutch John, Daggett County; Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce and Green River Chamber of Commerce, both in Wyoming; Vernal Ranger District offices; LaVerne and Shirley's Conoco, 1175 E. Highway 40; Davis Jubilee Store, Vernal; Lapoint County Store, Lapoint, Uintah County; Duchesne Ranger District Office; Roosevelt Ranger District Officer; Hanna County Store, Hanna, Duchesne County; and Steward's Market, Roosevelt.

• Dixie national Forest: Sales are at Cedar City Ranger District; Escalante Ranger District in Escalante, Garfield County; Antimony Merc in Antimony, Garfield County; Boulder Exchange; Grand Staircase Inn, Cannonville, Garfield County; Clarke's Market in Tropic, Garfield County; Nisson Canyon Country, Escalante; Powell Ranger District in Panguitch; St. George Interagency Visitor Center in St. George; Veyo Mercantile; Brackens in Enterprise and Cottonwood in Enterprise.

• Fishlake National Forest: Beaver Ranger District; Fillmore Ranger District; Loa Ranger District in Loa, Wayne County; Richfield Ranger District; Albertson's in Richfield; Lin's Market in Richfield; Don's Sinclair in Salina, Sevier County; Flying U Country Store in Joseph, Sevier County; and Grass Valley Mercantile in Koosharem, Sevier County.

"Remember to always be prepared for winter weather," the release warns. "Be prepared for slick, snow-packed roads, and have chains, a four-wheel-drive vehicle or a snow machine available."

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It adds that those searching for trees should always let someone know where they are planning to go, and to bring additional warm clothing, good warm gloves, boots, a container of hot liquid, water, lunch or snacks. Finding, cutting, hauling and securing a tree may take longer than expected.

"Carry a flashlight, chains, shovel, first-aid kit, matches, a hatchet, ax or handsaw," it also advises. Also, rope, straps or other fasteners will be needed to secure the tree to one's vehicle unless there's room inside.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com