Cutting your own Christmas tree in the Black Hills

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…!

 

Thinking about cutting down your own tree this year for Christmas? Here are some tips and suggestions for finding the best tree and ensuring your safety.

The best trees to use include spruces, firs, pines and some juniper varieties. Here in the Black Hills you’re most likely to find Ponderosa Pines and spruces to chop down for your holiday tree. Here are some things to be aware of before you set off for the Black Hills National forest with your ax in hand.

Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, you are required to obtain a permit to cut down a tree. So contact the Black Hills National Forest in Custer, South Dakota at (605) 673-9200. Each tree requires a $10 permit. If you’re planning to cut down a few trees, you need a permit for each.

The best locations to find your tree include in and around Custer State Park and the forestry service areas in the western part of the Black Hills National Forest. We would suggest north of Hills City and South of Rochford as a good place.

There are areas that have been over cut during the season, such as along the 385 corridor. Also, there are areas that it is illegal to cut down a tree, including the Black Hills Experimental Forest (northeast of Rochford), the Black Elk Wilderness, Beaver Park near Sturgis or within Spearfish Canyon.

First, determine what size tree you’re looking for before you leave the house. Know exactly the ceiling height in the room you’re placing it in and the width of all doorways you’ll need to clear when bringing it inside. You’re looking for a tree that is no more than three feet shorter than your room height allows. That gives you a foot of clearance for the stand, a foot for the topper of your tree and another foot of easy clearance.

Next, you need to know what your vehicle is going to be able to safely carry. If you’re in a sedan and planning to strap the tree to the roof of your car, you’re probably not going to be able to cut down and carry home an 8-foot tall tree, no matter what your room will allow. Be sure that you have a blanket and some sturdy rope to secure your tree once you have it placed on your car, as well. Trees emit sap, so a plastic tarp might be the best option.

Sharpen your ax and bring it, along with a sturdy pair of gloves. This is a great time to get everyone in the family involved in the tree-cutting for this season. Give each person an assigned role. Your teenager can carry a light. Someone to help you clear the lower branches. Someone to safely determine what angle the tree is going to fall.

As your friendly neighborhood chiropractor, I recommend using a saw instead of an ax. Swinging an ax can throw your hips off center, leading to potential injury or pain. Instead, use a saw and tandem motion between two adults, with a third person standing by to navigate the tree as it comes down.

Rushmore Family Chiropractic wishes everyone a very happy and safe Christmas!