RENO, NV - With Christmas fast approaching, northern Nevadans are already on the hunt for the perfect tree. Around town the lots aren't popping up quite yet but, Christmas tree permits are selling quickly at the U.S. Forest Service.
It's a tradition that has lost popularity in recent years but for those who participate, there is no better way to get a Christmas tree than to venture into the forest and select the perfect tree from its natural habitat.
The trip to get a Christmas tree starts at the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest office in Sparks. A $10 permit buys you the right to cut down a tree in one of the three areas in our region.
"Ten dollars and the effort is well worth. It's a great day for us," said Robin Saenz who was picking up a tree permit on Tuesday.
From the Galena visitors center, a ten-minute hike gets you to the one of the three cutting areas.
"Trees need to be within 10 feet of another tree... and please no topping of trees," said Rita Ayers of the U.S. Forest Service.
Rita Ayers says trees should be cut as close to the ground as possible and be no bigger than 6 inches in diameter. This keeps the big trees in the forest.
"It's a way that we can keep forest health in balance. So we have areas that have really think brush, or little tiny trees growing everywhere. Really, that is what people are cutting," said Ayers.
Cutting down the tree is easy, getting it home takes effort.
"You have to be in shape. You have to have good knees and a good back and good friends," said Kevin Brett who was cutting down a tree.
For most who partake, the adventure makes it all worth it.
"It's fun for one thing. It's a good family outing. I love hiking around in the mountains anyway, so I might as well get a tree while i am at it," said Gary Stone who was cutting down a tree.
4,000 tree permits were issued this season for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Officials say those will likely run out but Tuesday next week.