Over the river, into the woods: Christmas trees and more from our national forests

December 1, 2014

You know public land is your land, but did you know you can actually harvest its bounty this holiday season?

Get a permit, take a thermos of hot chocolate and head out to one of our national forests this year to get your Christmas tree! National forests like the Snoqualmie, Wenatchee and Gifford-Pinchot National Forests allow families to harvest trees for as little as $10.

What is a national forest? What does it do?

Most everyone is familiar with our National Parks, but National Forests don’t share that same name recognition for most people, unless you happen to live next to one.

These places fulfill a confluence of conservation goals by: preserving wildlife habitat, providing recreation access, protect water quality, and support local economies through forestry jobs and allowing cattle grazing.

These are publicly owned, responsibly managed lands that can be used to meet diverse community needs. Six of the nation’s 155 National Forests are in Washington state.

How you can preserve them for the future

In Washington this year, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is in need of a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to knit together a “checkerboard” landscape that faces an imminent development threat.

When forestland is converted to non-forest uses, this increases costs for local governments and cuts off public access.

It is critical that our elected officials in Washington D.C. reauthorize and fully fund LWCF before the program expires in 2015.

Before you visit your local National Forest to get your tree for the holidays, contact your Congressman and Senators to let them know LWCF is important to you.

To learn more about the many other proposed projects and how LWCF funds conservation without taxpayer dollars, visit our website.

Photo courtesy of the USDA.