'Tis the season: The Dos and Don'ts of harvesting a Christmas tree on public land

(Image Source: MGN)
(Image Source: MGN)(KALB)
Published: Nov. 21, 2018 at 4:16 PM AKST
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The time of year when many Alaskans venture out into public lands to chop down an Alaska-grown Christmas tree is upon us. Before you do, there are a few things the Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry wants you to know.

After you've found that beautiful tree perfectly sculpted by nature to live and die in your home for five weeks, but before you take an axe to it, make sure you're not on someone else's private property. Alaska residents are permitted to cut Christmas trees only on state lands

. If you're not sure, contact your Division of Forestry area office.

You'll also want to make sure you're not cutting down trees in state parks or experimental forests — both are frowned upon by state law and your friendly Division of Forestry officers.

If you're thinking of cutting down Christmas trees on state land to sell, kudos to you and your entrepreneurial spirit, but once again, you may run afoul of state law and DNR foresters. The limit is one tree per household.

And while the Division of Forestry maintains large swaths of forest for all your personal-use Christmas tree needs, it does not maintain the roads to get there. If you drive into the forest, make sure you have gear and equipment to get yourself unstuck and not freeze in the process. DNR recommends tire chains, a shovel, a tow strap, and warm clothing.

Cut trees as low to the ground as you can. If the top half of a tree is statuesque but the bottom half is grotesque, don't just cut it in half. The maximum tree height you can cut is 15 feet.

And while it should go without saying, DNR and KTUU will say it anyway: Please don't be a litterbug. Be courteous to the land, other tree cutters, and nearby residents.

If you have any questions, consult your Division of Forestry office, located in Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Glennallen, Haines, Palmer, Soldotna, and Tok, or contact the DNR in Anchorage at (907) 269-8400 or in Fairbanks at (907) 451-2705.