White Mountains Online

Christmas Trees
Identification & Gathering

Arizona's White Mountains

With every passing year more and more people desire going into the woods and cutting their own Christmas tree. Before going out to cut your tree, you are required to obtain a Christmas tree permit that must be in your possession when cutting your tree.

Applications for Douglas fir and spruce may be obtained at the Lakeside Ranger Station, but the permits are issued for the Springerville Ranger District. Permits on the Lakeside District are limited to pinyon pine and juniper and are issued by lottery only. Lottery tickets may be obtained at any Forest Service office in the state. Local newspapers and radio stations advise as to the time applications are available, fees required, and deadline date. Information may also be obtained at any Ranger Station.Over-the-counter permits are sold at Springerville and Alpine Ranger Districts for spruce, fir, pinyon, and juniper trees.

Sales of over-the-counter permits begin around Thanksgiving. Call individual Ranger Districts for specific dates and times of sales.If you are a lucky lottery winner, be careful, follow instructions, and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Instructions for Cutting Christmas Trees & Decorating Greens

Please carry your permit with you when getting your tree and place the tag on the tree as soon as it is cut. You may cut only the species of tree as specified on your permit, and only in the area designated on your permit and map. Please cut the tree out of sight of the nearest road. Be sure you cut the tree on National Forest and not private land.

The trees should be cut close to the ground. Do not leave a stump more than six inches high and cut all the green branches from the stump. Please do not cut the top out of a tree. Be sure the tree you choose is small enough for your needs. A tree standing in the forest looks smaller than when it is in your home.

An armload of green branches for decorations may be taken without a permit. These can best be gotten where timber or pulpwood have recently been cut. The juniper branches with the blue berries make nice decorations. You are also welcome to pick up the pine cones from the forest floor. They can also be used for decorations.

Safety Precautions

Always notify friends or relative where you intend to go and when to expect you back. Be prepared for cold, wet weather and muddy or snowy roads. As a minimum, we suggest you take with you the following items:

  • Tire Chains
  • Shovel
  • First Aid Kit
  • Matches or Flares
  • Tow Chain
  • Warm clothing
  • A little food
  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • A FULL tank of gas

Remember, winter storms can occur suddenly. If one comes up, start home soon. If you get caught in a storm, be cautious and stay on main roads, avoid short cuts. Stay dry and avoid over-exertion. If you get stranded, stay with your party. Help will be on the way as soon as possible. Keep a window open while using car heaters. Plan to leave the cutting area before nightfall.

For more information, please feel free to contact the USDA Forest Service, Lakeside Ranger District at 928.368.5111 or you may write us at 2022 W. White Mtn. Blvd., Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona 85935

Be sure to check with the Lakeside Ranger Station for current information on gathering permits or fees that may be required.

White Mountains Online wishes to express our appreciation to the USDA Forest Service, Lakeside District for providing this information!