Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

December 7 2004, 6:00 AM

Want to help the U.S. Forest Service manage our national forests this year? Start a new holiday tradition and head up to the hills to cut your own Christmas tree. We headed up to Buffalo Creek yesterday to scope out the best trees, and had a blast hiking in the snow and hauling our tree back to the checkout point. I'd recommend a four-wheel drive vehicle if you have one -- the roads are gravel and have a decent snowcover. However, we did see plenty of regular passenger cars on the milder trails that did just fine. This week is the prime week for cutting, and there are four major areas designated in Pike, Arapaho, and Roosevelt National Forests. Permits are $10, and entry hours are 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through December 12. Worried about deforesting our national parks? Don't. The tree-cutting helps control the undergrowth and therefore the fire danger in our forests, and helps existing mature trees remain healthy. You're actually helping the forest service manage our wild areas.