Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… You might catch me singing as I’m cutting down my annual Christmas tree like many other Carsonians. Every year Carson City families head to the Sierras to cut their own tree (permit required). The tradition for many usually involves a couples thermos full of hot chocolate, snacks, a few extra layers of clothes and maybe a snowball fight or Christmas carol or two.
The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Carson Ranger District, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit offers Christmas tree permits at a cost of $10 now through Christmas or until permits are sold out. Cutting areas include portions of Kingsbury, Dog Valley, Spooner Summit, Mt. Rose, Markleeville, Woodfords, Hope Valley and Wolf Creek. Permit holders may choose from varieties of pine, fir or cedar, in designated cutting areas. Before heading to the hills, you’ll want to stock your car with your own saw, warm clothes, tape measure, tarp, an extra blanket, first-aid kit, extra food & water, and heavy rope or chain.
8 Steps to choosing & cutting a Christmas Tree by ehow.com:
- Decide where the tree will go and measure the height – don’t trust yourself, or anyone else, to eyeball a tree and get it right!
- Determine what type of tree you want. Jeffery pines and Douglas firs, which make up the bulk of our local Sierra trees, make ideal Christmas trees.
- Put a blanket or tarp, a tape measure or yardstick, and some rope in the car and head for the forest.
- Once you get your permit and are in the permit area, look for a tree that you like and is the right height (keep in mind that a separate stand will add about 6 inches) and width. The tree should be reasonably even all around, with a straight trunk and as few dead needles as possible. The needles should feel springy, not dry and brittle. If you’re going to put it in a stand, make sure it’s got a length of trunk long enough, or lower branches you can take off without ruining the tree’s contours.
- Check the height one more time; in a wide open space with a lot of trees, all the trees look smaller than they will look tucked into the corner of your living room. (In other words, no matter how loudly your sister insists it will fit, don’t cut that 30-footer unless you’ve got a cathedral ceiling!)
- Mark and cut. The most important thing with the cut is to make it as straight and as even as possible.
- Put the blanket or tarp on top of your car to protect it. Then slide the tree up, trunk-end first, starting at the back of the car (this way it’ll get the least possible wind damage).
- Tie it down, and off you go!
Once home, attach a traditional tree stand, decorate, spritz it daily with a water bottle and keep plenty of water in the stand. Maybe even try granny’s advice and throw an aspirin in the water. Who knows if it actually keeps the tree fresher for longer, but it’s been passed down for generations.
Does your family have a Christmas tree cutting tradition?