NOVEMBER 13, 2013

The Apache-Sitgreaves promotes safe Christmas tree cutting practices this holiday season

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SPRINGERVILLE – This holiday season thousands of Arizona families will be trekking through national forests looking for their perfect Christmas tree. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests understands how important this family tradition is during the holidays and would like to remind people how to do it as safe as possible. Once you have purchased your permit, there are a few things to consider before heading out on your adventure.

Christmas tree permits go on sale at Big 5 Sporting Goods stores November 9! The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests will begin selling permits November 18, but you can cut a tree starting November 16 if you have already purchased a permit from a Big 5 Sporting Goods store. General information about the Christmas tree cutting program is also available on the Christmas tree permit hotline (928) 333-6267 and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests web site

Here are some tips on how to prepare before you even leave the house:
• Call the local ranger district to find out about the current weather and road conditions.
• Dress appropriately for adverse weather conditions. Layering is always a good idea.
• Tell a family member or friend where you are going and what time you plan on returning.
• Plan on getting an early start, you don’t want to get caught in the dark.

Some recommended items to bring on your adventure:
• If available, use a four-wheel-drive vehicle, if not consider tire chains, and a shovel for the vehicle you are taking.
• Food, water, cell phone and first aid kit.
• Your permit and a map for the area you are cutting.
• When hiking carry a flashlight, compass, whistle, lighter and knife.
• An axe, handsaw or hatchet.
• Rope and a tarp for strapping your tree to your vehicle or trailer.

Reminders for when you are out searching for the perfect tree:
• Stay on designated roads and trails to prevent ruts and resource damage.
• If you go through an unlocked closed gate, please close it behind you.
• If you PACK-IT-IN, make sure you PACK-IT-OUT.  
• Do not attempt going down snow packed, icy roads that can put you at risk for getting stuck.

Safety tips while cutting your tree:
• Wear eye protection and heavy gloves.
• Decide the direction the tree will fall and make sure it is clear of people, pets and vehicles.
• Step away from the tree as soon as it begins to fall.

Once you have cut your prize winning tree make sure you place the tag that comes with your permit on it immediately. Please do not cut the top off of a tree, and make sure your stump is no more than six inches high. Scatter any slash created from cutting your tree to prevent areas of fuel build up. You may take an armload of green branches, and pick up pine cones for decoration.