Buy a permit to cut holiday tree

DARRINGTON — The box of ornaments can stay in the attic until after Thanksgiving, but if you’re planning on heading out to the woods to cut a Christmas tree, you might consider purchasing your permit now.

Permits to cut trees in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest are available for sale through Dec. 24 at several locations in Snohomish County.

Thousands of people wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving to get their permits and cut their trees, Forest Service spokeswoman Renee Bodine said.

By then, not only are there crowds, but snowfall often limits access to the designated cutting areas. Cutting a tree early and keeping it cool and watered outside your house is an alternative to consider, she said.

Most trees are accessible only by narrow, unplowed mountain roads, said Dave Kendrick, who oversees the Christmas tree program for the Forest Service.

Those who go into the mountains to get their trees need take along chains and other winter weather supplies, as well as leave early in the day to take advantage of the daylight, Kendrick said.

“And let friends or relatives know where you are going and when to expect you back,” he said.

The nonrefundable permits cost $10 for a tree with a height limit of 12 feet, and are at $20 each for taller trees. Cutting a tree without a permits is punishable by a $100 fine.

Maps and information about cutting areas are provided where permits are sold. Road and weather conditions are available online at

For more information, call the Forest Service’s Verlot Public Service Center at 360-691-7791.

Reporter Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427 or

Where to get a cutting permit

Christmas tree cutting permits from the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest are available Monday through Friday at the Darrington Ranger Station, 1405 Emens Ave. N., 360-436-1155; from Friday through Sunday at the Sauk River Trading Post, 1014 Seeman St. in Darrington, 360-436-1500; on weekends at the Verlot Service Center, 33515 Mountain Loop Highway, east of Granite Falls, 360-691-7791; or daily at the REI store at the Alderwood mall, 3000 184th St. SW, Lynnwood, 425-640-6200. REI is the only location taking credit cards.

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