DIY Holiday: Cut-Your-Own Christmas Trees in Michigan Forests
Many families cherish the holiday tradition of personally selecting and cutting down their Christmas tree, and the U.S. Forest Service has reintroduced a beloved outdoor tradition: the $5 U-cut Christmas tree. As an alternative to conventional tree farms and lots, the Forest Service annually offers people the opportunity to harvest their own Christmas trees from national forest lands.
While most national forests permit the personal use of trees for firewood and Christmas festivities, obtaining a Forest Service-issued permit and adhering to specific guidelines, which may vary between forests, is mandatory.
Cut your own Christmas tree in Michigan.
In Michigan, a $5 special Christmas tree permit enables people to cut a tree from specified areas within the federal forest lands spanning nearly 3 million acres, including Ottawa, Hiawatha, and the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
“This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within designated areas of the Ottawa National Forest! Lifelong memories are built during these special times, and we are happy to help with any information gathering you’ll need to make this trip a safe and enjoyable one,” emphasized The Forest Service’s website.
This tradition not only creates memories but also contributes to overall forest health by thinning densely populated stands of small-diameter trees, according to the Forest Service.
Permits are currently available and can be purchased in advance through Recreation.gov. In some instances, permits may be obtained in person at the national forests’ district offices, but it is suggested that those interested call ahead to confirm the availability of in-person permits.
The Forest Service provides general guidelines for tree cutting, including the restriction of selling wood or Christmas trees. Permit possession is mandatory while in the forest, and people should consult local district offices before cutting down dead or fallen trees, as they may serve as vital animal habitats.
Each national forest has its specific regulations and recommendations for tree cutting. Those interested are encouraged to visit the permit webpage for the Michigan National Forest in their area for more detailed information.