Thousands of Californians got their Christmas trees from a national forest this year, leaving the land a little more fire-resistant than they found it.
Eleven national forests in California are offering Christmas tree tags to those who want to cut down their own tree for a fee of $10. Eldorado National Forest Service Spokeswoman Jennifer Chapman says tree cutters are encouraged to find small trees that make for particularly good fuel for wildfires.
"We ask people to actually try to take trees where they are crowded rather than just where a single small tree would be out by itself, because that does help with the forest health benefits," Chapman said.
The Lake Tahoe Basin sold out of its 2,200 tree tags the day after Thanksgiving. Eldorado is offering a total of 4,500 tags and still has some available for purchase on weekdays.
Chapman says it's a small number of trees compared to the estimated 126 million trees in the forest, but it's a great excuse for people to get out on public lands.
"The actual goal of this program is to help people have this traditional holiday experience out in nature and help provide a personal connection to the land," Chapman said.
Fourth graders with an "Every Kid In A Park" pass can get a free tree tag.
U.S. National Forests in California that allow Christmas tree cutting with a permit are: