OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. — Families around Michigan will likely be looking for a Christmas Tree in the days and weeks following Thanksgiving. This year, many may start a new tradition by selecting one from public lands.
The Huron-Manistee National Forests offer wild grown conifers from select selections of the National Forest with a $5 permit which can be purchased online or at a Forest Service ranger station. Each person is permitted to purchase three permits.
There's likely millions and millions of trees to choose from and easy to get to along Forest Service roads.
"My perfect tree might be different than your perfect tree but that's the beauty of our National Forest you can find that perfect tree," said Joshua Veal, public-affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
The native conifers won't look anything like the heavily pruned Christmas Trees growing on a farm. But finding one growing in the wild can be a fun adventure.
"Make a day of it, folks will bring some hot chocolate and maybe a picnic lunch," said Veal.
The Forest Service requires the tree be less then 20-feet tall, and stumps should be less than six inches off the ground.
A valid permit must be attached to each tree before it's removed from the site at which it's cut and must remain on the tree in transit
Maps showing area where cutting is permitted, additional guidelines, and to purchase Christmas Tree tags visit the U.S. Forest Service website.
Veal says anyone going into the National Forest should also let someone know where you're going and when you'll return.
Also Fourth and Fifth-grade students in Michigan can receive one free Christmas Tree tag with the Every Kid Outdoors pass.
Vouchers are available at the Every Kid Outdoors webpage, click on "Get Your Pass."
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