Four years ago a group of friends and I headed into the Ghost Wilderness in search of the perfect Christmas Tree. Unwilling to setup an imitation tree, and fed up with the overpriced trees on commercial lots, we decided to find and cut down our very own. This can be a treasured experience creating memories that will last a lifetime. If you’d like to partake in your own Christmas Tree hunt this holiday season, just follow these simple steps…
Step 1 – Be Prepared
Not dressing properly, or forgetting something important, can turn an exciting event into an unenjoyable experience rather quickly.
Step 2 – Size Matters
What may look like the perfect tree while standing in the forest may in fact be less than ideal once it’s upright in your living room.
Step 3 – Keep the “Wild” in Wildlife
Unless you’re looking for an exotic new pet, make sure the tree you choose isn’t already in use by one of our furry or feathered forest-dwelling friends.
Step 4 – Let’s Get Serious
In all honesty searching for your very own Christmas Tree is much easier than the Griswold’s make it out to be. You’ll need to obtain a tree cutting permit from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD). Each $5.00 permit allows the holder to harvest up to three Christmas Trees under 2.5 metres in height. Permits can be purchased online or at your local ESRD office. In order to buy a permit you must be at least 18 years of age, be a legal resident of Alberta, and be in good standing with the Crown relating to timber, grazing, and land use. Christmas Trees may be harvested on provincial Crown land in designated areas only. For Calgary residents, the South Saskatchewan Region is the closest area to the city. There are Tree Cutting Permit Maps available on the ESRD website that outline the designated areas and include important conditions of use. ESRD recommends 4×4 vehicles for certain areas and specific roads. If you are unfamiliar with the terrain, check with your local ESRD office for further information. Make sure you bring an axe or hatchet, bow saw, or my personal favourite, a chainsaw. If you’re not driving a truck, you’ll need something to secure the tree to the roof-rack of your vehicle. Lastly, be prepared for winter conditions by ensuring you are dressed properly and bring emergency supplies, which can include blankets, food and water, candles, a first aid kit, and more.
Our Christmas Tree hunt is fast becoming an annual tradition and is an event I look forward to each year. Just thinking about it, I can smell the pine needles, taste the hot chocolate, and feel the frosty air on my face. Start a new tradition this year with your family or resurrect an old one, either way spend some time outdoors this holiday season in search of that elusive, perfect Christmas Tree!
Happy Hunting & Happy Holidays!