Don’t get a hefty fine this holiday season.

If you want to cut down your own Christmas tree, make sure you’re doing it right.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development outline the steps required.

First, make sure you have a permit.

You can get a permit online, or by contacting your local natural resource district office or FrontCounter BC office.  Note that different permits may have a different set of rules. This is a link to for the Selkirk area permit which applies for West Kootenay residents.

If you are unsure of which area you are in, use this handy guide with region names displayed on the top right corner.

Trees may only be harvested on Crown land and not the following:

  • Private land or other areas alienated or reserved for a special use
  • Woodlot Licence or Community Forest Agreement areas (contact these licensees for permission)
  • Provincial or National Parks
  • Forest plantations in previously harvested areas
  • Research areas
  • Areas within 50 meters from any stream

It’s also important to be prepared. The best trees may be hard to reach and therefore on rough winter roads.

The ministry also provided to tips and tricks to help you stay safe and leave no trace:

  • Leave home prepared. Bring ropes, gloves, tools, tire chains, a first-aid kit, a mobile phone and warm clothing.
  • Drive carefully. Be prepared for logging trucks: http://www.bcforestsafe.org/files/tk_pdfs/gde_resrd.pdf
  • Make sure you have found the tree you will use before cutting. Some permits specify only one tree can be cut.
  • Do not leave a pointed stump as this may cause injury to livestock, wildlife, pets or other people.
  • Choose a tree that can be cut near the base and is easy to transport. Wasted tree remains left in the forest can form a summer fire hazard.
  • Clean up and remove all debris associated with your activity.

Remember, these permits are for personal use. It is illegal to cut trees and sell them commercially.

Have a Merry Christmas and stay safe!