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Finding the perfect Christmas tree in Montana

Chiara Cipriano, Helena Lewis & Clark National Forest spokesperson
Posted at 8:18 AM, Nov 25, 2022

GREAT FALLS - You can probably find something you think looks like a good Christmas tree just about anywhere you look in the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest.

But just because something looks good doesn't mean you can cut it down.

Let's be honest, stomping through a snowy forest in search of the perfect Christmas tree can be exciting.

But hold on there, Paul Bunyan. Let’s back up for a second.

Before you set off, make sure you're prepared. That includes knowing how much space you've got.

"How big a tree you can fit inside (your car,” said Helena Lewis & Clark National Forest spokesperson Chiara Cipriano.

Having the right equipment and having a permit displayed on the dashboard of your vehicle.

"You'll want to bring your handy little hand saw,” said Cipriano.

The location of the tree is also important.

"You want to be around 200 feet from the trail,” Cipriano explained.

Make sure you're also not near any streams. Any tree you cut down must be no more than 12 feet tall.

"For my perfect Christmas tree I'm looking for something symmetrical, something where the branches are pretty dense together,” said Cipriano.

Harvesting trees is not just a fun holiday tradition, though.

It's also important. It gives other trees room to grow and can help reduce the spread of fire and infestations like beetles.

You can buy a permit for $5 at any US Forest Service district office or online.