If the family holiday traditions include venturing into the woods for that special holiday tree grown in its natural surroundings, now is the time to purchase a National Forest Christmas tree permit. Permits sell for $5 each at Forest Service offices and $5.25 at many retail outlets in Central Oregon.
>It's not too early to start planning for the annual trip into the forest for the Christmas tree and the Forest Service is ready
Along with your permit, you will receive the handout, "Guidelines for Collecting your Christmas Tree" which contains general information on where to find the most popular tree species, and specific information on what trees are permissible to cut. It is important to carry a forest map in your vehicle to avoid cutting a tree on private land.
Christmas tree permits can be purchased at the following locations:
Prineville: Ochoco National Forest Headquarters, Ochoco Thriftway and Paulina Ranger Station
Bend: Deschutes National Forest Headquarters, Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger Station, G.I. Joe's, Butler Market South, Wal-Mart and the Welcome Center
Madras: Crooked River National Grassland and Bi-Mart
Redmond: Redmond Air Center
Terrebonne: Terrebonne True Value
Sunriver: Sunriver Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads Station
Keep safety in mind as you head for the forest. Christmas tree-cutting areas are at higher elevations than most residential areas, which means that weather conditions are usually colder and snowier than in town.
To make your outing fun and safe for the entire family, remember to:
* Get an early start
* Pack extra clothes, food, blankets, sleeping bags, first aid supplies and tools
* Always know where each person in your party is
* Equip each family member with a whistle (so no one gets lost)
* When using Sno-Parks and snowmobile and ski trails leading out of them, avoid hiking or snow shoeing on "set" ski tracks along the ski trails - this creates hazards for skiers; stay to the right when encountering snowmobiles on the trail
* Let friends know your travel plans and when to expect you home
* Drive a well-maintained vehicle that is equipped to handle winter driving conditions
Please be aware that some areas on the National Forest may require a State Sno-Park permit to access parking.
A Special Road Closure takes effect from December 1 to April 1 for all roads leading directly off Cascade Lakes Highway from milepost 11 to Mt. Bachelor and all roads leading directly off Road 45 from Road 4525 to Cascade Lakes Highway.
For more information, contact the Ochoco National Forest at 416-6500.