All Vermont fourth graders can get a free Christmas tree cut from national forest land
RUTLAND – Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Monday, Nov. 23, that for the first time in Vermont history, the State House Christmas tree will come from federally managed land within the 400,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF). The 32-foot balsam fir was scheduled to be harvested Tuesday on public land in Hancock, Vt., from a wildlife habitat management area.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the state of Vermont to partner with the U.S. Forest Service, which works incredibly hard to promote and provide diverse recreational opportunities to Vermonters and those visiting our great state,” said Shumlin.
The GMNF is one of the most heavily recreated national forests in the nation, attracting 3–4 million visitors annually.
“This is a special time of year and we are very proud of our ongoing relationship with the employees of the Green Mountain National Forest. I find it quite fitting that this year, the public’s tree has come from public land,” Shumlin concluded.
A tree lighting ceremony will be held Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. on the State House steps in Montpelier. The event is open to the public. There will be remarks from Governor Shumlin, a certificate of appreciation presentation, the official tree lighting and refreshments in the State House lobby.
“We are honored to be able to provide the Vermont State House Christmas tree this year,” said John Sinclair, Forest Supervisor for the Green Mountain National Forest. “A lot of people come in to purchase Christmas tree permits from us each year, but this tree is a gift to the people of Vermont and it symbolizes our collective state and federal commitment to the conservation of Vermont’s natural resources,” Sinclair added.
The U.S. Forest Service offers Christmas tree removal permits to the general public for five dollars each. This year, all fourth graders can take advantage of the Every Kid in a Park Initiative and get a free Christmas tree voucher (www.nationalparks.org/ook/every-kid-in-a-park.) Fourth graders that present a printed copy of the voucher may redeem it for an EKIP Pass and a Christmas tree removal permit at one of the U.S. Forest offices listed below. This is a one-time opportunity to cut down a Christmas tree on national forest land during the 2015 holiday season. Christmas trees for personal use may be cut on the Green Mountain National Forest, subject to the following conditions:
A “Christmas tree removal” permit must be purchased at one of the Forest Service offices located in Rutland, Middlebury, Manchester Center or Rochester, Vt.
The permit must be attached to the tree before transporting it from the site where it was cut.
The permit holder is responsible for knowing that the tree comes from Forest Service land. Maps are available when you purchase your permit.
Trees more than 20-feet tall are not designated for cutting by the permit.
The height of the tree stump left after a tree has been cut should be 6 inches or less above the soil.
Christmas trees shall not be cut in active timber sales, wilderness areas, campgrounds, picnic areas, or within 25 feet of any Forest Service, town or state maintained road.
Only one Christmas tree removal permit will be issued per household per year.
Permits are not refundable.
Trees obtained under the Christmas tree removal permit may not be resold.
The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.