By David Butler
It”s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and the Utah National Forest is kicking off the season by selling Christmas tree permits.
The Uinta National Forest will sell 750 tree permits on Friday morning and 750 on Saturday morning.
The $10 permits allow purchasers to go into the forest and cut down their own Christmas tree.
Permits will be sold at the Soldier Hollow lodge from 9 to 11 a.m. both days and will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Any remaining permits will be sold beginning Nov. 8 at the Heber Ranger District Office.
Barra Davis, Uinta National Forest information specialist, said this has become a big tradition for many people in the area.
“Go up and take your family,” she said. “We have a lot of families in this area who make it a tradition to go get their Christmas tree.”
This is Soldier Hollow”s second year to host the selling of the permits. Permits used to be sold at the Utah County office, but the office could no longer accommodate the number of people coming.
Howard Peterson, general manager at Soldier Hollow, said last year was such a hit they expanded what they are going to do this year.
“We try and do a lot of things that are fun announcing the season and announcing the sales of the Christmas tree tags,” he said.
Peterson said in addition to the sales of the Christmas tree tags, there will be music, food and thousands of dollars in giveaways.
“In the past, when the forest service office hosted this, there weren”t even toilets. There was nothing,” he said. “There are a lot of families who are Christmas oriented and winter oriented and we thought it was such a perfect group of people to host and get ready to start the season.”
Peterson said people even sleep overnight at Soldier Hollow, usually out of tradition, to ensure they are some of the first to get a permit.
Chris Bunker, an Orem resident, has been going up with friends for five or six years to cut her own tree.
“It”s a fun thing to go do with my friends, and its a lot less expensive,” she said. “It”s a much better alternative for something you are only going to use for a few weeks.”
The permits come with a map and list of regulations for which trees people are allowed to get.
People can find and cut down their tree starting the day they buy their permit or can wait right up to Christmas Eve.
“You have to be a very serious tree hunter,” Davis said. “You have to go through the snow, find your own tree and cut it.”
Bunker said she recommends wearing good snow boots and trudging through the snow for a little while until you find the perfect tree.
“I really love it,” Bunker said. “It”s a fun thing to do. I would highly recommend it.”