Holiday tree hunting

For many people, the holidays symbolize family, good food and maybe even a gift or two. For others, these special days are a much-needed break from work or school. But for some, anticipating Christmas is centered on one action: trekking into the mountains with friends, carrying in hot chocolate and other treats, and hunting. Tree-hunting, that is.

Although it may seem like an anti-ecological way to celebrate winter — "Oh, let's go up to the mountain and cut up something" — chopping down a tree can actually help a forest environment.

When a larger tree is taken down, more sunlight can reach little ones hiding in its shadow, resulting in more trees. And, of course, more trees mean more shelter for woodland creatures, not to mention more opportunities in the future to have the smell of pine reverberating through your home, making everything feel a lot more festive.

To cut down a tree, you have to buy a $5 permit at the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District office, 645 Washington St. The phone number for the district office is 541-552-2900. You will be given maps with information that guide you to public lands and spell out that you can't harvest in the Ashland Watershed, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, developed campgrounds, picnic areas, posted tree plantations and other restricted areas.

And you have to be at least 200 feet from state highways, but isn't this activity all about spending time with nature?

Once you're in the right place, you cannot cut a tree shorter than 12 feet (again, allowing the little ones to grow up) and there must be another tree within 12 feet (you wouldn't want to take the only one, would you?). Also, cut close to the ground so you don't leave an unsightly stump.

Need an easy starting place? Dead Indian Memorial Road provides ample opportunities to find a fir to anchor your holiday cheer.

Amelia Covert Zeve, 13, is an Ashland-based writer and wilderness enthusiast who attends Ashland Middle School. Contact her at

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