Christmas tree lots expect a busy weekend, US Forest Service offers an alternative

Christmas tree lots expect busy weekend, US Forest Service offers alternative

Christmas tree lots expect busy weekend, US Forest Service offers alternative

Hundreds of trees are ready for what’s expected to be the busiest weekend of the season at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market tree lot.

“Here we sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 a year,” Ben Wolcyn, with Wolcyn Tree Farms and Nursery, said about the St. Paul location. The family business also sells trees wholesale and at a choose-and-cut farm.

“All-encompassing, we do between 25,000 to 50,000 Christmas trees per year,” he added.

Wolcyn, who is also the president of the Minnesota Christmas Tree Growers Association, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS there was a good crop of trees this year. The trees are old enough to be unaffected by the drought.

“All of these trees, the roots are so deep in the ground the moisture level didn’t affect them,” he said. “It’s kind of a future problem down the road.”

While there are plenty of trees in stock right now, demand is picking up with weeks to go until Christmas.

“Get out there early because the supply side of things will shut off at some point,” said Wolcyn. “Everyone will get a tree, it just might not be their first choice if they wait too long.”

Cutting down a Christmas tree from a national forest

Cutting down a Christmas tree from a national forest

The U.S. Forest Service is also offering another option to families who miss out on the good selection at lots and farms, or want to create a new family tradition. The agency is encouraging families to pick out and cut down a tree on National Forest System land, including in the Superior National Forest and Chippewa National Forest.

“There are plenty of trees out there for everyone,” said Christine Kolinski, the public affairs specialist for Superior National Forest.

A Christmas tree permit, administered by the USDA Forest Service, is required and each household is limited to two trees per year. Each tree costs $5. The agency recommends balsam fir or spruce trees.

“We ask that you do not cut cedar or white pine,” said Kolinski, who shared a few other recommendations. “We ask people go 200 feet off any Forest Service road, away from water sources and campgrounds, or recreation areas. We also ask that when you cut your tree, cut it no more than six inches above the ground level and please do not cut the tops off of really pretty trees just to get that top portion of the tree.”

The annual Christmas tradition helps thin densely populated areas, which allows other trees to grow bigger and taller.

“It can also open up areas and provide wildlife forage,” said Kolinski. “And it helps reduce wildfire spread because balsam fir is a real good conduit to ignite, and it can get into the tops of trees and the fire can spread.”

Each tree cut this holiday season is a gift to help the health of the forests.

“It’s a great way to get out and get fresh air and get your family outside,” said Kolinski.

For information about how to get a permit, click here.

According to Wolcyn, his team will be selling trees at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market each weekday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.