You can get a Christmas tree for just five dollars, and enjoy a hike at the same time.
The U.S. Forest Service sells the low-cost tree-cutting permits at its offices for the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, and the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and western Maine.
Those permits allow people to remove wild pine trees from the federal land.
There are some limits, however, including rules that no trees can be cut near the road, and none removed that are 20 feet tall or taller.
Ethan Ready, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service in Vermont, said the program has grown in popularity in recent years, as more families become interested in exploring the outdoors.
He acknowledged wild trees from the forests don’t have the same perfect shape you could get from manicured trees purchased at a tree farm or a pre-cut tree seller, but said the wild Christmas trees are beautiful in their own way.
"The perfect Christmas tree is always in the eyes of the beholder, but when you sit around your tree with your family, it will trigger those memories of how it became your tree," Ready said of the act of hiking and selecting a tree from the national forest. "The permit itself is $5, but the experience, we like to say, is priceless."
Ready said the money from the permit sales goes back into land management funds for the national forests.
In Vermont, U.S. Forest Service offices are located in Rutland, Manchester Center and Rochester.
In New Hampshire, offices are in Campton, Lincoln, Gorham and Conway.