You'll be able to cut your own Christmas tree on the Bitterroot National Forest with permits available November 12.

the $5 permits will be sold at any US Forest Service office or a number of retail businesses - Mr T's in Darby, Bob Ward and Lone Pine Conoco in Hamilton, Merc Fresh Market in Corvallis and Cenex in Stevensville. Only cash or personal check will be accepted for payment.

There's a limit of three permits per family and are Personal Use permits. The Darby Ranger District will handle Commercial and Non-profit fundraising tree cutting at (406) 821-3913.

Forest officials say there are choices of tree and species on the forest, but to be sure, get a map from the Forest Service.

There are some rules:

  • Cutting is not allowed on tree plantations, previously thinned areas, and developed recreation areas.
  • Trees are not allowed to be cut within 300 feet of campgrounds, streams lakes or ponds or within 100 feet from any main road.
  • Do not cut the top of a tree, leaving any stump higher than eight inches. Try to take a tree from an overcrowded area to help remaining trees grow.
  • Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said that travel conditions are constantly changing, so use a 4-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires or chains. Watch out for snowmobiles and other recreationists walking, skiing or sledding.

    A final tip - if you're not going to set up the tree right away, store it in a cool area and when you put it indoors, cut at least an inch off the bottom and keep it watered.