Tahoe Basin Christmas tree permit sales begin Monday

Submitted by USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will begin the sale of Christmas tree permits on Monday, Nov. 25.

Permits cost $10 each payable by cash, check or credit card. Please note, cash sales are quicker and allow for more efficient payment processing. New this year is a limit of one permit per family or address. By limiting permits to one per family, we can help ensure more families can have a tree this year. Permits must be purchased in person, are not transferable and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Permits will be issued during regular business hours while supplies last. Cutting under these permits is allowed until December 31, to accommodate military families and others who may need to celebrate a delayed Christmas.

Permit holders may choose from a variety of pine, fir or cedar trees up to six inches in diameter (at the base) in specially designated cutting areas. Cutting area maps are provided at the time of permit purchase. Select a tree that is six inches or less in diameter at the base of the tree by using the ruler provided on the tag. Select a tree that is within 10 feet of another green tree. Do not remove the top of the tree, cut down the entire tree and leave a stump that is six inches or less above the ground. Scatter all discarded branches away from roads, ditches, and culverts. Attach the tag to the tree before leaving the cutting area.

Cutting a Christmas tree offers a traditional holiday experience and helps remove smaller trees, which reduces excess vegetation that can feed unwanted wildland fires.

Permits will be sold in the following locations:

Forest Supervisor’s Office, 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. This office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. (If purchasing a permit at the South Lake Tahoe office, please be sure to arrive no later than 4 p.m. This will help ensure there is adequate time to process your purchase before the office closes at 4:30 p.m.)

North Lake Tahoe Visitor Center, 100 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City, CA 96145. This office is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., excluding Christmas Day.

Permit holders should follow permit guidelines for responsible collection, including not trespassing onto private property when entering or leaving National Forest cutting areas. Observe seasonal road closures and be prepared to hike to the cutting area to find a tree. No off-road travel is allowed. Park in legal areas and do not block gates. Weather permitting, some National Forest roads will remain open to improve access to cutting areas.

In support of the Every Kid Outdoors Program, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will offer one free Christmas tree permit to fourth-grade students who present a valid Every Kid Outdoors pass. The student must be present to obtain the permit and when cutting the tree. For more information about the program and to obtain the student pass, visit The free permit may only be obtained at the South Lake Tahoe office.

Finally, it’s important to remember that weather conditions in the mountains are unpredictable and travel during winter weather can be dangerous due to wet and/or icy roads. On stormy days, wind may cause branches or trees to fall, so visitors should avoid cutting on wet, windy days. Always check the weather before heading out and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Dress appropriately for cold weather conditions and be prepared for ice and snow. Carry tire chains and a shovel and bring emergency supplies, including water, food, blankets and a first-aid kit. Keep in mind, mobile devices may not work in some areas, so develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.

The Tahoe National Forest began selling Christmas tree permits on Nov. 6.

Many other National Forests sell Christmas tree permits. For a list and more information, visit

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.