You can cut down your own Christmas tree at some national forests - here's what to know

FILE-A dog pulls a wagon with a freshly cut Christmas tree at a farm in Summerdale, Alabama, US, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Christmas is weeks away, but some people are already making holiday preparations, including figuring out where to find a quality tree.

And as you search the aisles of your area stores, one place to consider is the national forest

Some locations will let you cut down a Christmas tree, but you need a Forest Service-issued permit, and you have to follow specific guidelines, which can vary at different forests. 

But before traveling to your local forest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service listed its criteria to get one. 

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Christmas tree cutting requirements

Most holiday tree permits are issued in November, and you have to contact your local forest district to obtain a permit for Christmas tree and tree cutting instructions.  

The permit has to stay with you while in the forest, and the tree you choose must be roughly 200 feet from main roads, recreation sites and campgrounds.

According to the Forest Service, the tree must have a trunk six inches or lower in diameter, and when you prepare to cut the tree, it can be no more than six inches above ground level.

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Visitors must select a tree from overstocked areas and bushes, and it can't be cut only for the top portion, and can only cut one tree per tag.

You must bring a rope and tarp to move your tree from the forest to your car, and attach the tree tag to the tree before putting it in the vehicle.

It's important to remember that the Christmas tree can't be sold, per the agency. 

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Additional guidelines from the agency include contacting each forest district office for specific dates, maps, times, and accessibility to the area and checking the weather conditions for appropriate clothing to wear. 

And visitors are required to contact the local district office before cutting down dead or downed trees.  The Forest Service shares that dead trees may provide a habitat for animals. 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.