The snow has fallen, the nights are getting longer, and strings of lights adorn homes inside and out— it’s that time of year when the Holiday spirit brings us together both as a community and as families. Where do we gather during the holidays? Around the tree of course! With our lush, mountain forests, McCall is the perfect place to find your Christmas tree this year and every year!
It may seem odd that a community which has planted more than 3,500 trees to create a beautiful landscape and frame stunning view corridors would be in favor of chopping down a tree to display for just a few short weeks, but live trees are both renewable and biodegradable! While artificial trees can clog up landfills and take many years to degrade, The Payette National Forest is brimming with trees large and small just waiting to be dressed in your favorite ornaments and recycled for your greenest Christmas yet.
Before you set out to find your fresh tree, here are ten tips to make the process easier and more enjoyable for everyone:
- Pick up a permit at the Payette National Forest office in McCall. Permits cost $10 and allow one tree to be cut with a limit to three permits per family.
- Don’t go too early. The best time to get your Christmas tree is between late November and mid-December, as most cut trees will hold their needles for 3-4 weeks.
- Trees look a lot smaller in the forest! Measure your ceilings and know what height will fit your home before you head out.
- Expect a hike! In the Payette National forest you cannot cut a tree within 50 feet of a road, just remember that you’ll have to carry or drag your tree back to your vehicle.
- To find a fuller tree, look for a clearing with plenty of sunlight and ample room for trees to grow and spread out.
- Know your trees. Spruces have sturdier branches that turn upward and can handle heavier ornaments. Pine and fir trees have wonderful aromas and softer needles and branches, perfect for lights and lighter ornaments.
- Don’t forget your saw! You may laugh now, but we have all gotten into the forest just to realize we left the saw at home. Don’t forget safety while you’re cutting either, wear gear such as work gloves, boots, and avoid loose clothing, especially if you are using a chainsaw. Having a friend or family member to steady the tree while you cut is also a great idea.
- Don’t worry about perfection. Trees grown in the wild will never be perfectly symmetrical, but with some purposeful trimming and your family’s favorite tree decorations, your tree will be a unique, one-of-a-kind showcase to make the holidays brighter.
- Shake out your tree. Trees in the forest are home to all sorts of creatures, shaking your tree will help you make sure you don’t bring unwanted guests into your home for the holidays.
- Don’t rush it! You may think you have spotted your dream tree, but commit to a short walk so you can see all your options in the forest. Enjoy the fresh mountain air and make the outing one to remember. Remember, it isn’t just about the end result, it’s about the journey!
Happy Hunting and Happy Holidays!