It’s beginning to look a lottery like Christmas. The U.S. Forest Service has opened the process for acquiring permits to cut down a Christmas tree in one of Arizona’s national forests.
Applications may be downloaded from the Tonto National Forest Web page at www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto. They can also be picked up at Forest Service offices statewide and at many Valley libraries and district ranger stations.
Completed applications, including a $10 check or money order for the permit fee, must be postmarked no later than Oct. 21 for consideration. Applications postmarked after the deadline and those delivered by hand will be rejected. Cash will not be accepted.
If demand for Christmas trees exceeds supply, a random lottery will be used to issue permits.
For those chosen, trees may be cut from Nov. 11 through Dec. 24.
Applicants may select up to six tree-cutting areas, in order of preference. A map of cutting areas with information about tree species and number of permits available in each area is included with the applications.
Changing weather and road conditions may affect selections.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has three tree-cutting areas for any species of tree. The Kaibab National Forest has one cutting area available for pinon or juniper. The entire Prescott National Forest is available for any tree species. The Tonto National Forest has one cutting area around Payson for either pinon or juniper.
The Coconino National Forest will not participate in the program this year because of pine bark beetle tree mortality.
Drawing and processing of applications will begin Oct. 25. All applicants will be notified by mail after Nov. 11. Application fees will be returned to unsuccessful applicants.
For more information, call the Christmas Tree Hotline: (602) 225-5258.