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Morgan Huston straps a Christmas tree to his Jeep.

The popular $5 National Forest Christmas tree permits are now available at all Lolo National Forest offices.

Cash and personal check payments will be accepted at all office locations; however, credit cards are only accepted at the Missoula and Ninemile ranger stations. Only three permits are allowed per person.

Permits may also be purchased at six vendor locations, and most vendors can only accept cash or check:

• Murdoch’s, 2801 W Broadway, Missoula

• Cabela’s, 3650 Brooks St., Missoula

• Bob Ward & Sons, 3015 Paxson St., Missoula 

• Bronc’s Grocery, 16640 Beckwith St., Frenchtown

• Clinton Market, 20500 Old Highway 10, Clinton

• Conoco Feed & Fuel, 1201 Main St., Thompson Falls

Beginning this year, the Missoula Ranger District and Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s Office also will be taking permit orders over the phone at 329-3894 through Dec. 13. Permits purchased by phone will be mailed to the specified address within one to three business days.

The Missoula Ranger District also will be open until 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2-5, and will be open Saturday, Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A free Christmas tree permit will go to every fourth-grade student as part of the Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) program. Fourth-graders must present a valid EKO pass or paper voucher at their local Forest Service office (not vendors) to receive their free permit. To obtain the pass or paper voucher, fourth-graders need to visit everykidoutdoors.gov.

“Harvesting a National Forest Christmas tree for the holiday season is a long-standing tradition on the Lolo National Forest,” said Kate Jerman, Lolo National Forest spokesperson. “We encourage fourth-graders and parents to take advantage of the free Christmas tree permit program.

“We are also pleased to continue our partnerships with community vendors by offering additional and convenient permit purchase locations.”

The hunt for the perfect Christmas tree can be a fun, festive way to begin the holiday season. For a great Christmas tree cutting experience:

• Be aware of changing weather as well as road and snow conditions,

• Carry the right gear like a map, proper footwear, and cold-weather attire,

• Bring the right tools: a hand-saw for cutting the tree and a shovel for removing snow around the base of the tree.

The Forest Service also has some basic rules to follow. Those include not cutting trees from plantations or in developed recreation areas, campgrounds, wilderness areas, Blue Mountain or the Rattlesnake National Recreation area. Don’t leave branches on the stump and trim it to no more than 5 inches above the soil. Don’t lop the top off of trees, don’t cut any taller than 12 feet, and don’t cut any trees within 150 feet of creeks or streams.

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