(WSIL) — This may be the year to start a new family tradition. For the first time, the Shawnee National Forest will allow people to cut down their own Christmas tree.
"For the first year we’re offering Christmas trees for purchase to the public. They cost $5. You can buy a permit at any of the offices on the Shawnee National Forest, in Vienna, Harrisburg or Jonesboro," explains Justin Dodson with the Shawnee National Forest.
The catch is that you have to find a tree and be able to drag it out on your own.
"You’re going to have to look. We don’t have areas designated where people go cut. You’re going to have to spend a little time to find that perfect tree, but there’s plenty of areas out there."
Over 250,000 acres are available for Christmas tree hunting, but there are a handful of areas that are off limits.
"The permit will tell you where you cannot go, which includes wilderness areas, developed rec areas or areas that are already closed to the public."
Hand saws and chainsaws will be permitted when cutting down the tree, but the use of a motor vehicle is prohibited. Any conifer tree, with the exception of the Bald Cypress, is fair game.
Dodson says, "There are specifications. They can’t be any taller than 15 feet and 9 inches diameter at breast height, and you can’t cut a large tree down and cut the top off. They’ve got to meet those specifications, but other than that they can go wherever they want, and hopefully they find the perfect tree on the National Forest."
One permit is allowed per household allowing one Pine Tree to be cut and taken home. For more information, click here.