Christmas trees harvested from BLM-managed lands bring holiday cheer

Scouting for the perfect Christmas tree on BLM-managed lands is a fun-filled family adventure for many in the West. According to Wade Salverson, Senior Forester at the BLM Headquarters Office, BLM has issued over ten thousand Christmas tree permits this year.

"Searching for and harvesting the family Christmas tree on public lands is a family tradition for many in the West. The BLM Forestry program works to provide excellent opportunities while ensuring sustainability for years to come," says Salverson.

Man with a girl and dog cutting down a Christmas tree
Christmas tree harvesting in BLM Wyoming (Photo by Sarah Beckwith)

The BLM Christmas tree permit program gives people the opportunity to bring home a living piece of their public lands for the holidays. BLM offices across the West offer a variety of tree species for sale each year. Some of these species include white fir and Douglas-fir in California, Oregon Douglas-fir, Utah pinyon pine, juniper, and subalpine fir from the high elevation Rocky Mountains.

“Christmas trees harvested from public lands represent an opportunity to get this holiday tradition fresh from our nation’s forests. As commercial Christmas trees are often purchased well after harvest, a self-cut tree should stay fresher and last longer in most cases,” says Joshua Jackson, Forestry Program Lead at the BLM Wyoming State Office.  

Man carrying a child on his shoulders and dragging a Christmas tree
Christmas tree harvesting in BLM Wyoming (Photo by Shelley Gregory)

This year, Utah is the top state for tree-cutting sales within the BLM. Nearly 6,000 trees have been collected this season from BLM-managed lands in Utah. According to BLM Utah public affairs, the increase in permits sold recently might have to do with a shortage of Christmas trees from commercial operators this season.

“The Christmas tree permit program is a family activity that is renewable, environmentally friendly, and promotes awareness of BLM-managed public lands. The number of trees sold increases traffic to these open spaces,” says a spokesperson for BLM Utah. 

Man with a saw next to a Christmas tree
Christmas tree harvesting in BLM Colorado

Did you know that Christmas trees harvested from public lands are a renewable resource? When a tree is cut down, growing space is opened for regeneration of new trees.

“Despite thousands of small trees being cut per year, many trees are regenerating and replace the ones that are cut, ensuring little impact on the pinyon-juniper woodlands. The distance between trees being cut is significant, thereby not impacting fire management,” says a spokesperson for BLM Utah.

Christmas tree hunting also gives people the opportunity to explore new areas and spend the day on public lands.

Jackson says, “The Bureau’s Christmas tree permit program provides an excellent opportunity for people to recreate on their public lands. It also represents a great opportunity to get out into nature and avoid the crowds associated with purchasing a tree at a Christmas tree lot.”

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Safety information:

The BLM encourages the public to use all safety precautions when cutting down a Christmas tree. Hard hats, safety gloves, and close-toed shoes are recommended. Be aware that fires can occur year-round on public lands. Avoid creating a spark by placing spark arrestors on chainsaws and ATVs. If making a campfire, please keep it under control. Use water and a shovel to put out campfires, and ensure ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area. In the event of an emergency, call 911. Riding in a four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Bring proper safety equipment. Recreate responsibly and practice Leave No Trace methods to minimize impact in natural areas.


When selecting a tree, search for one of a reasonable height and no greater than eight inches in diameter at the base. Cut low to the ground (around six inches above the ground) to make sure all of the tree is harvested and to allow space for new trees to regenerate.