Thinking about taking the family to cut down your very own tree for Christmas this year? Then you may want to know where and how to get a permit before they’re gone. The United States Forest Services Department will offer tree-cutting permits to Arizona residents starting in early November at participating Big Five Sporting Goods stores across the state and at a few Forest Service offices. A representative from the Big Five store in Avondale said permits are expected to go on sale Nov. 9, but because of the recent government shutdown that date is tentative. She suggested calling ahead and getting to stores early to buy your permit – they will sell out quickly. In previous years, customers have lined up as early as two hours before stores open to get a permit for their preferred forest location. Permits are $15 and will be offered for five of the state’s six national parks, including Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto. All tree cutting permits can be used until Dec. 24. A total of 10,650 permits will be sold but must be used at the specific forest the permit is associated with, officials said. The permit is good for trees that are up to 10 feet tall and only one is allowed per household. Permits are also limited to the type of tree you can cut down. For example, if you’re looking for a pinon or juniper tree, you will want to secure a permit for the Kaibab National Forest in Williams.
Whether you bring home your own fresh-cut, real tree or set up an artificial one, fire safety is an important consideration for its placement, decorations and care. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2006-2010, an average of 230 home fires across the U.S. started with Christmas trees. In some instances, the fires were caused by electrical malfunctions with tree lights, while others were the result of setting the tree too close to a heat source like a fireplace or using candles on or near trees. These hazards can certainly be prevented. Keep the holidays merry by following these tips offered by the NFPA.