>Permits will go on sale this weekend for Christmas tree cutting in the Ochoco National Forest with the permits available at the Forest Service headquarters or at Ochoco Plaza Thriftway Market
With the threat of snow in the forecast, what better time to be thinking about heading up into the high country for a Christmas tree? Beginning this coming weekend, Forest Service Christmas tree permits will be available for Crook County residents.
   Ochoco NF headquarters, 3160 N.E. Third St. will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on each Saturday and Sunday of the next three weekends for the sale of tree cutting permits. The other outlet is the Ochoco Plaza Thriftway, 1535 E. Third St. which is open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
   Permits cost $5 at Forest Service offices. Thriftway adds a 75 cent surcharge for up to five permits, which can be purchased until Christmas Day.
   There are no restrictions on which tree species can be harvested in the Ochoco National Forest. However, some areas are off limits. Trees cannot be taken in the Black Canyon, Lookout Mountain Management Area, Ochoco Divide Research Natural Area, and Bridge Creek or Mill Creek Wilderness Areas. In addition, Christmas tree cutting is not allowed in campgrounds or tree plantations.
   Firewood collection has also been prohibited on the Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests since Nov. 30, when the 2001 firewood season ended.
   Some roads on the Ochoco NF may also require a state Sno-Park permit to access parking. Driving off roads and parking that restricts other vehicles from passing is prohibited.
   Motorists should fill their gas tanks, carry traction devices and be alert for heavy truck traffic on Forest Service roads. They should also carry blankets, matches, food and water.
   Christmas tree-cutting areas are at high elevations, so inclement weather should be expected. Forest Service officials recommend that people inform others where they will be traveling and when they will return, before departing for any outing on federal land.
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