SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s an abundance of Christmas spirit in the Black Hills this year.
Christmas tree permits are selling fast in Black Hills National Forest offices and one official said some forest district offices are running low on permits.
“We’re seeing just banner sales in our Christmas tree program,” Bradley Block, Black Hills National Forest Recreation Program Manager, told KELOLAND News.
Block cited good recent weather conditions and a nationwide shortage of commercial Christmas trees as two reasons for this year’s Christmas tree boon in the Black Hills. In the Sioux Falls area, popular Christmas tree farms have cited drought conditions for smaller tree supplies.
A Black Hills Christmas tree vendor reported selling more than 470 Christmas tree tags over the Thanksgiving holiday. Block said the four Black Hills National Forest offices – Hell Canyon District (Custer and Hot Springs), Mystic Range (Rapid City), Northern Hills (Spearfish) and Bearlodge Range (Sundance, Wyoming) – provide permits directly to families but also to vendors that are open seven days a week.
A Christmas tree permit in the Black Hills National Forest costs $10 per tree and allows for a maximum height of 20 feet and a maximum stump height and diameter of six inches. For families with a fourth-grade student, a federal program — Every Kid Outdoors Program — offers free Christmas tree permits.
Block said there could be additional tree permits coming, but he said the safest way to guarantee a Christmas tree tag would be to call one of the Black Hills National Forest district offices to make sure they are still available.
Christmas tree permits, if available, can also be purchased online at the website recreation.gov with a $2.50 service fee. More details and tips about cutting down a Christmas tree in the Black Hills National Forest are provided and Block said hard copy brochures can be found in the district offices.
“First and foremost plan for a wonderful day exploring the forest and looking for the perfect tree,” Block said. “Come out, enjoy the Black Hills.”
Block added frontline staff at district offices could provide the best locations and point people in the right direction.
“It’s a wonderful program,” Block said. “There’s 1.2 million acres of forest service land to hunt for the perfect tree.”