If your family tradition is to head to the forest to cut a tree for Christmas, or if you're ready to start that tradition, there are some important things you need besides your trusty ax or chainsaw.

In Colorado, there are rules and regulations so don't go out and harvest an evergreen from the forest without these key things.

These are pretty standard statewide, but I'm going to focus on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests.

  • Tree Permit - When you bag it you gotta tag it. Tree permits are available for $8 at these locations and can only be used to cut trees for personal use. You can buy up to five permits but you can't sell the trees. So, either put up and decorate all five or give away those you don't need to friends, family, or someone who can't afford a tree.
  • Map of Places Approved for Tree Cutting - The entire forest is not available for Christmas tree cutting. You have to know both where you can and can't chop down that tree. Get that information when you get your permit.
  • Size Matters - If you want a tree to rival the size of those at the White House or Rockefeller Center, go elsewhere. Also, don't cut the top few feet off of a large tree to make it the right size for your house. It's neither cool nor legal. This, and more is all spelled out online or in the literature you get with your permit.
  • Map of Roads Open to Motorized Vehicles - Sorry, you can't drive to every place it's legal to cut a Christmas tree so you need an MVUM Map to guide you. Going to the forest to get the perfect tree is supposed to be work. Besides, you'll get more attention when you tell everyone you carried that tree five miles uphill to the truck.
  • This Isn't Everything - Yes, Virginia you have some homework. This article is only designed to help you decide if you really want to go to the trouble of cutting your own tree or head to the tree lot. Please, learn all the rules and regulations and if you have questions, contact the Forest Service.