What better way is there to get in the holiday spirit than to don coats and hats and gloves, and walk through the woods in search of that perfect Christmas tree, cut down with your own tools by your own hands? It is a family holiday tradition that many in Arizona cherish, but there is some very important preparation to do. For you see, you cannot just load up the family and the dog into the SUV, drive up north and begin your search. You must have a permit to cut a Christmas tree.
In 2008 drawings and online applications for Christmas tree-cutting tags were eliminated. Now, you have to go to a designated store to purchase a tag. When they run out, they run out. Tag prices are $15 each for trees up to 10 feet tall.
Here is what you need to know:
- In order to harvest that perfect Christmas tree, you must obtain a tag (permit).
- Companies, organizations or schools may not apply. Tree permits are for personal use only.
- Permits are issued for harvesting one tree, per household, per year.
- Only individuals/families may purchase a tag and the tree must be used in their household.
- Trees may be harvested during the period between November 18 and midnight on December 24.
- Along with your tag, you will receive a map showing your tag’s cutting area, tree-cutting instructions, safety precaution reminders and a tree identification fact sheet.
- There is no way to replace your tag if you lose it and there are no refunds if you can't use it.
You can pick up a Christmas tree-cutting tag beginning November 9, 2013 at one of several Big 5 Sporting Goods store locations. In the Greater Phoenix area, those locations are:
- Avondale/Goodyear: 1623 North Dysart Road, Avondale AZ 85323
- Chandler: 2050 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler AZ 85225
- Glendale: 5490 West Bell Road, Suite A, Glendale AZ 85308
- Mesa: 2930 N. Power Rd, Mesa, AZ 85215
- Mesa/Gilbert: 1244 South Gilbert Road, Suite 101, Mesa AZ 85204
- Phoenix/Paradise Valley: 4623 East Cactus Road, Phoenix AZ 85032
- Phoenix/Bell Rd: 1919 West Bell Road, Phoenix AZ 85023
- Phoenix/East: 3560 East Thomas Road, Phoenix AZ 85018
- Phoenix/West: 7710 West Thomas Road, Phoenix AZ 85033
- Scottsdale: 3330 Hayden Road, Scottsdale AZ 85251
For Big 5 locations elsewhere in Arizona, check the national forest website.
In 2013 there are at total of 10,650 tags available for the Christmas tree-cutting program (in 2012 there were 9,500). In 2013 you can also purchase permits at the five Forest Service Offices:
- Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (928-333-4301) - any tree species
- Kaibab National Forest (928-635-5600) - piñon and juniper from Big 5, possibly others at Forest Service offfies
- Prescott National Forest (928-443-8000) - any tree species
- Coconino National Forest (928-527-3600) - fir only
- Tonto National Forest (602-225-5200) - piñon and juniper
Without an application drawing process, it's obvious that 'first come, first served' is the name of the game. When tags run out, no more will become available.
For more information you may call the Christmas tree hotline at 928-333-6267 or visit the Forest Service online.
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Tree lightings, holiday lights, festivals, holiday music and entertainment, gift guides and holiday travel tips -- find them all in the Christmas Holidays Guide for Greater Phoenix.
All prices and dates are subject to change without notice.