Christmas tree permits available |

Christmas tree permits available

Steamboat Springs residents, from left, Andy Gilligan and Zac and Bob Riley pull out the perfect tree from the Routt National Forest in November 2013.

— The holiday tradition of cutting down the annual Christmas tree is quickly approaching.

The U.S. Forest Service again this year is offering $10 permits that allow the cutting of one tree on Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests land. Up to five permits are allowed per household. They can be picked up at the Forest Service office at 925 Weiss Drive in Steamboat from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For the first time this year, fourth graders with an Every Kid in a Park pass can get a free tree-cutting permit.

Strap on the snowshoes, grab a shovel and beware of dead trees that could fall at any time, the Forest Service advises. And don't forget the saw.

"Weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared," the Forest Service said in a news release. "Dress for winter conditions and have your vehicle equipped adequately."

There are also a few rules when it comes down to cutting down a tree.

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— Trees may not be cut within 100 feet of roads or within 200 feet of campgrounds, picnic areas, scenic pullouts, administrative sites, timber sale areas or designated Wilderness areas.

— Don't pick the perfect tree. Choose one that is growing with other trees in a cluster. It benefits the forest.

— Maximum tree height is 20 feet. Maximum tree diameter is six inches at the stump.

— Cut the tree to a stump height of six inches or less, or below the lowest living branch, whichever is lower. If one living branch is left on the stump, the tree will continue to grow, although it will probably become deformed and encourage disease.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland