Find your tree in the Tongass this Christmas

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - With regulations in place, Alaskans are welcome to cut their own Christmas tree in the Tongass National Forest for personal use.

    No permit is required as long as the following guidelines are followed.

    Paul Robbins, the Public Affairs Officer for the National Forest Service, commented on regulations that are in place.

    "Recommendations that we have in there are just for the health and life of the ecosystem. And for the appearance of our forest. Some of the guidelines are don't top a tree, don't go out and grab a 30-foot tall tree and just take the top of it because that introduces threats of disease and other problems for the tree and can end up killing it. Try to get as close to the bottom of the stump as possible. So you're not leaving large stumps out there."

    Pete Schneider with the Juneau Ranger District noted which areas are eligible, and which ones to avoid when looking for a tree.

    "The most likely spot where people can go on Forest System land is between milepost 29 and 33 out the road. I'll mention one other spot. If you go up Eagle Crest road for about the first mile, past the Fish Creek Bridge, going towards Eagle Crest, that also is National Forest System land in there. That's another location that's great to cut. Namely, the primary spots to avoid are the recreation sites. Not a good idea to cut trees in these locations. So that's Auke Village, Lena Beach, out by the visitor center, and of course the Dredge Lake area. These are recreation areas, we ask people not to try to cut Christmas trees in those locations of course, as well as other recreation sites."

    Schneider elaborated on regulations to follow to help take care of the forest.

    "You're not supposed to cut within 330 feet of a bald eagle nest. If there's a known bald eagle nest within 100 meters, you're not supposed to cut trees that close. So we ask that trees not be cut from the Héen Latinee Experimental Forest which is also out the road, that's in the area of the Kowee Creek drainage. The trees that you find in muskegs are really slow growing, that's an environment where trees take much longer to develop. So we typically discourage folks from cutting any trees in those locations. They just don't regenerate that fast. So it's generally not a good idea to cut in those locations. Certainly, the trees need to be under seven inches in diameter at the stump that you're looking to harvest for a Christmas tree."

    There are no regulations on what tree species or size to cut, except for a tree should not be more than 7 inches in diameter at the stump.

    Additionally, do not cut a tree and then discard it for one that's more desirable.

    Schneider encouraged people to participate in the Alaskan tradition.

    "We encourage people to go out and harvest the Christmas trees. And it's certainly a tradition for a lot of folks and the Forest Service's totally happy to support that, in the locations that can support it. A reminder only one tree per year for each household. And then of course the trees can't be sold or bartered or traded for any reason and no commercial type exchange for goods."

    More from News of the North