Still need to get your Christmas tree fresh from the forest? No problem...but you DO need a $5 permit to cut your own tree.

Here are the official details from the USFS:

Forest Service offices in Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Livingston, Gardiner, Big Timber, Red Lodge, Billings, Ashland, MT and Camp Crook, SD will have permits available

  • 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • $5.00 each
  • Limit of three permits per household
  • Permits are sold in person
  • Cash, check, debit and credit are accepted

Permits are also available at these local community businesses:

  • Belgrade: Town and Country and Belgrade True Value
  • Bozeman: Owenhouse Ace Hardware (downtown store bicycle shop and W. Main St. store), Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply
  • Four Corners: Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply
  • Big Sky: Ace Hardware and Conoco Big Sky
  • West Yellowstone: Corner Cenex
  • Livingston: Ace Hardware and True Value
  • Big Timber: Conoco Town Pump next to the Country Skillet
  • Gardiner: Gardiner Market
  • Red Lodge: Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop

A permit can also be purchased for gathering personal-use boughs.

Permits, maps, forest road access updates and tree species identification guides are available at each ranger district office.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
  • No tree cutting is allowed within 50 feet of any stream, lake, or wetland.
  • Only trees 15 feet tall or less may be cut.
  • Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible and below the lowest live limb. A remaining stump height of 6 inches or less is ideal.
  • After cutting your tree, attach the purchased permit to a lower limb near the trunk for transporting home.
  • "Topping" trees, or cutting the top off trees, deforms any future growth and leaves a visual eyesore. Take the entire tree or choose another one.
  • Trees help protect watersheds, provide habitat for wildlife, and contribute to beautiful scenery. Keep these values in mind when selecting a tree.