RAPID CITY, S.D. — They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas time comes with frantic last minute gift shopping, but it also comes with the process of grabbing perhaps the most important decoration to celebrate the holiday. A Christmas tree.
The U.S. Forest service has closed it’s offices in the Black Hills region, but that’s where the Forest Service and Recreation.gov come in to play.
For the first time, those still trying to get a permit for the Black Hills can do so by purchasing one online. It’s only been two weeks, but the Forest Service has already seen an uptick in tree permit purchases through the website, thanks in large part to the weather.
“The last couple weeks have been awesome,” said Scott Jacobson, the Public Affairs Officer for the Black Hills National Forest. “We started the permit sales late in November and our sales have been up a lot and we’ve probably sold as many permits as we’ve sold each year throughout the past. So, I think the nice weather has gotten people out.”
About 5,000 tree tags are sold every year in the Black Hills with about 3,000 coming from the Rapid City area, 1,500 in the Spearfish area and 500 in the Custer area.
Trees can’t be cut in the following locations:
- Recreation areas
- Picnic areas
- Active timber sales
Jacobson says that the best places to find Spruce trees, which is the most common tree used during the Christmas holiday, are places with high elevations, north facing slopes in areas with water, moisture and shade. He also said to properly dispose of your Christmas tree by taking it to a landfill. This can also help cut down on the fuel for wildfires.
Christmas trees must be 20 feet or less and the stump must also be six inches or less.
Some people prefer to pick up their tree in town, like the lot at the Rapid City Club for Boys.
The club holds a Christmas tree sale every year, selling roughly 1,700 trees, with profits going back into the programs for the kids. But when it comes down to it, there’s more to it than a fundraiser for children’s programs.
“This isn’t just a fundraiser to sponsor the operations,” said Mark Kline, the Assistant Executive Director of the Club for Boys. “We do this as part of a job training program for our kids, as a community event for a lot of our families. It’s a tradition to come down here and get a tree and there’s so much to it. Really for us, it’s a big event.”
Kline says that despite being open for only about three weeks, the Club for Boys has sold about two-thirds of its inventory, which was about 1,700 trees. He says that there are about 450 different varieties of trees to choose from on the lot.
The Club for Boys has held the fundraiser for 41 years.
Whether you chop it down or pick it up, the Black Hills seems to be folks’ one stop shop for that key piece of décor.