Forestry Friday … Guilt Free Christmas Tree

Christmas tree, fresh cut

It’s a sign, God’s big paint brush. Christmas trees this way!

Do you love having a fresh-cut Christmas tree?  Better yet, do you love going out to the woods and cutting your own tree?  Do you worry that getting a real tree is damaging the environment?  This is your lucky day, because the Forester Artist is here to absolve you of your sins!

x-mas trees

For the best Christmas trees take the road less taken.

Most Christmas trees on the tree lots are grown on Christmas tree farms.  Buy them and they will grow more.  There is no impact to the forest when buying from a Christmas tree farm.

Which on should I cut!  Too many choices.

Which one should I cut.  So many choices!

Many of us like to go directly to the source, the forest.  Is it wrong to cut a Christmas tree in the woods?  Does it damage the environment?  No way!  Get out there and cut that tree!  The reality, in the western United States, is that we actually have too many trees in the forests.  Too many trees…how can that be?

Sugar pine

There’s a couple of beauties! No, not the big one in the middle. That is a mature sugar pine tree.

For the last 100 years there has been aggressive wildfire suppression in our western forests.  This has caused our forests to grow quite dense with more trees per acre than can be healthfully grown.  The result is our forests are becoming very susceptible to disease, insect attack and cataclysmic wildfire.  I’ll post more about that later.

Christmas tree, forestry

I’ll take this one. I forgot my saw, so this hatchet will have to do.

When we thin our commercial forest, we typically space our trees from 18′ to 26′ apart depending on their age and size.  That kind of spacing gives you a lot of latitude when picking a tree.  If you are worried about creating a “hole” in the forest, then select one growing close to another tree.  You can also pick a tree next to road in the ditch, since these trees get removed for road maintenance.  The tree I selected is growing so close to the large sugar pine that a timber faller would have to cut it out of his way in order to fall the large tree.  The small tree is a safety issue because it blocks the timber faller’s escape route.

red fir, silver tip, Christmas tree

Timber baby! This is a premium silver tip. Silver tips are actually red fir trees.

Three nice silver tips loaded up.

Three nice silver tips loaded up.

One of those trees was growing in the ditch next to the road.

One of those trees was growing in the ditch next to the road.

So, if you want to go and cut your own Christmas tree, then go by your local Forest Service office or other local forest headquarters, and get a Christmas tree permit.  Cutting your own is great family fun, but be careful, because it’s easy to get stuck.  It’s always better to take two vehicles.

golden retriever, forest, forestry

Kinta is the truck dog today, since Blitz had a doctor’s appointment.  Uh oh, it looks like Kinta has been into the eggnog!