Good news: Christmas tree permit fees have been waived in 2020. Sorta bad news: You still need a permit and there are rules you have to follow to get yourself a tree from the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

  • SIZE: Depending on what district you cut from, there are limits on what size of tree you can cut. (Some limit it to 12 feet, others to 15 feet.) CHECK THE HEIGHT DETAILS FOR EACH DISTRICT HERE.
  • HOW MANY: A permit allows you to harvest up to THREE trees. Obviously, don't harvest more than you actually need.
  • WHEN: The "Christmas Tree Harvesting Season" actually has specific dates: Thu, Oct 15, 2020 through Thu, Dec 31, 2020.
  • PERMIT ONLINE: This permit allows you to cut a Christmas Tree within the Custer Gallatin National Forests of Montana and South Dakota. CLICK HERE to get a permit from various districts available.
  • PLEASE NOTE: This permit allows for gathering personal-use boughs, but no cutting from Hemlock or Cedars.
  • Stump height: 6 inches maximum (lower the better)
  • Do not remove the top of the tree; cut down the entire tree
  • No cutting of 5 needle pines (i.e. 5 needles in one cluster)
  • Limber Pine and White Bark Pine trees are NOT permitted. If unsure, please check with your local ranger district about tree species identification and restrictions.
  • Remove snow from around the tree stump so you can accurately measure the stump and tree height...harvesting the right kind of tree is important!
  • "Be Alert! There are many dead and dying trees that could fall at the slightest disturbance!"
  • And most importantly, MAKE SURE YOU'RE ON NATIONAL FOREST LAND BEFORE CUTTING YOUR TREE! (You'd be amazed...)
Montana Forest
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Shopping For Christmas Trees
Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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