CAMPTON — Have you ever been frustrated at how soon the needles fall off the Christmas tree you purchased? You might want to consider cutting your own on the White Mountain National Forest.

While trees on the national forest may not be expertly pruned and shaped, you will know they are fresh.

Cutting your own Christmas tree can be an enjoyable adventure for the entire family, and has become a yearly tradition for many. Bundle up, make a lunch, bring your handsaw or ax, and look for that special tree. You’ll create family memories and traditions while getting out in the fresh mountain air.

You will need a permit to cut any Christmas tree in the national forest. Permits cost just $5 and are available beginning Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving. You can purchase a permit with cash or check only at national forest office locations in Campton, Lincoln, Gorham and Conway. Be sure to call ahead to make sure permits are being sold when you arrive.

This year, one free holiday tree-cutting permit will be issued to fourth-graders who present a valid Every Kid Outdoors pass.

The Forest Service is among a number of federal agencies supporting the Every Kid Outdoors initiative; more information can be found at

Several different types of evergreen grow in the White Mountain National Forest.

Many people prefer the balsam fir because of fragrance and needle retention. Others prefer the spruce because of the fullness of the branches and the classic shape.

Keep in mind that a wild tree may not have the perfect appearance of a commercial tree. Be prepared to do some real searching. Somewhere out there is your ideal Christmas tree. Just remember, they look smaller in the woods than they are in your living room.


• Trees are for personal use only, not for resale. Each family may cut one tree per permit. One Christmas tree permit per family.

• Use only hand tools to cut Christmas trees. Chainsaws are not permitted.

• Make sure you are on national forest land. Respect the rights of landowners when crossing private property.

• Do not cut trees in or near campgrounds, picnic areas, experimental forests, wilderness, timber sale areas, or within 100 feet of a state highway. When you purchase the permit, ask if there are any known “off limit” areas.

• Do not cut trees larger than 8 inches in diameter at chest height. Pack down limb piles low enough so they are within 2 feet of the ground. Scatter limbs and wood at least 25 feet away from roads, streams, hiking trails and property boundaries.

• Cut your tree so remaining stumps will be less than 10 inches in height.

• Attach your tree tag after cutting and before transporting your tree.

Be prepared for winter. Dress appropriately in warm clothing, drive safely, and bring extra snacks and supplies.

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