If you are dreaming of finding that perfect Christmas tree in the mountains of southwestern Oregon this holiday season, you have barely a month before the jolly old elf arrives.
No worries. Beginning Monday, Nov. 19, Uncle Sam will again offer Christmas tree permits for personal use to those making their annual pilgrimage into the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest or the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District in search of a tree.
Some 8,000 of the $5 permits are sold each year in the region.
Personal-use Christmas tree permits for the forest and the BLM district will be available in the following places beginning Monday:
Ashland: Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District office, 645 Washington St. Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Butte Falls: High Cascades Ranger District office, 730 Laurel St. Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; Whistlestop Emporium, 407 Broad St. Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Eagle Point: Midway Country Store, 5600 Butte Falls Highway. Open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; Eagle Point Hardware, 10840 Hannon Road, Open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a .m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Jacksonville: Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District office, 6941 Upper Applegate Road. Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; McKee Bridge Restaurant, 9045 Upper Applegate Road. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday; Outpost Farm and Garden, 181 Upper Applegate Road. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Medford: Medford Interagency Office, 3040 Biddle Road. Open 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; Blackbird Shopping Center, 1810 W. Main St. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday; Northwest Outdoor Store, 980 Biddle Road. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Upper Rogue: High Cascades Ranger District office, 47201 Highway 62, Prospect. Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; Cascade Gorge Store, 2651 Mill Creek Drive, Prospect. Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; Prospect Store, 500 Mill Creek Drive, Prospect. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; Shady Cove Hardware, 21103 Highway 62, Shady Cove. Open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; Sunset on the Rogue, 26876 Highway 62, Trail. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day; Union Creek Resort, 56484 Highway 62, Union Creek. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
A permit is required for the harvest of each tree, with a limit of five per person. The permits can be used on land open for personal-use Christmas tree harvesting on the national forest and the BLM's Medford and Coos Bay districts. Maps with directions to cutting areas will be provided.
Christmas-tree cutting is not allowed in wilderness areas, campgrounds, developed recreation areas, national monuments, research natural areas, areas of critical environmental concern, or within fences or posted tree plantations or within 200 feet of state highways.
Trees should be cut as close to the ground as possible and not more than a foot above the ground. In addition, another tree should be growing within 12 feet of the tree being cut.
After a tree is cut, the tree tag must be validated by cutting out the date, month and year. The tag must be securely attached to the cut tree in a visible location before the tree is transported home.
The annual quest for a holiday tree invariably draws a lot of local families who enjoy the outing, but the annual excursion also can result in tree hunters getting lost or stuck in the snow if they aren't prepared for all eventualities, officials caution.
"Always know where you are going and let someone know where that is and when you expect to be back," said Jim Whittington, spokesman for the BLM's Medford District.
"People need to be cautious and not complacent when they are out in the mountains," he added. "You can't always depend on a cellphone. And the weather can also change quickly."
The roads in the districts and the national forest are not plowed during the winter, officials said.
For instance, Bear Camp Road, the coastal route west of Grants Pass, is not recommended for travel this time of year because it is not maintained from Nov. 5 through May 31.
To be prepared for the unexpected, Whittington urges tree hunters to pack a blanket or sleeping bag, food and water.
In addition to the small tree-permit map showing where they can hunt for trees, people should take along a forest or district map to help guide them in their journey, he said.
Also, those heading out in search of a tree should make sure their gas tank is full, wear warm clothing and gloves, and throw in a saw, shovel, tire chains, flashlight and first-aid kit, he said.
For links to weather forecasts, road conditions and webcams, go to www.mailtribune.com/weather.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email@example.com.