OLYMPIA — During the busiest “Christmas tree” hunting and bough gathering weeks of the year, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking for the public’s help to protect school trust land trees.
Trees and boughs are not available for cutting from the state’s 2.1 million acres of trust forests.
DNR is steward of forested state trust lands, managed to help fund construction of public schools, universities and other state institutions, and to help fund local services — mostly in westside counties.
“Heading out in early December to cut a Christmas tree is a family tradition for many,” said Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands. “Cutting trees from state trust forests isn’t allowed. These trees need to grow to build future public schools in our state, as well as provide wildlife habitat and clean water and air.”
Those looking for trees will find many private you-cut locations, and the national forest offers permits for cutting on federal lands. Private tree farms offer varied types of beautiful trees and types of experiences for patrons to cut a “Christmas tree.” For options, view listings of the Washington State members National Christmas Tree Association, or the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association.
Permits are available for the National Forests throughout Washington State, including Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.
As always, DNR officials are asking private citizens to help thwart theft by calling 911 to reach the county sheriff if they suspect trees or boughs are being cut from state trust lands. Penalties for damaging or stealing trust land evergreens can include fines and jail time. The more serious cases are turned over to a county prosecutor who cooperates with DNR investigators and local sheriffs’ offices in pursuing such thefts.