With an axe in hand, create Christmas memoriesBy Michelle Tabatabai-Shahab
Reporter, The VOICE
Picking a tree out of a nearby parking lot is cool and all, but doing it every year can become a little redundant. Maybe you're need for something new and a little adventurous is overwhelming this year. Get your hands on the Christmas spirit by chopping down your own Christmas tree.
If you're one of those people who find that the parking lot selection is getting flimsier with each passing year, or your aggravation from the past year is over whelming then what you need is to slice yourself a piece of Christmas heaven then consider heading out to a Christmas tree farm.
It might get a little dirty out there but chopping down your own tree is a really fun experience. You may love it so much you'll make it an annual tradition or you may try it once and be done with your "one with nature" experience for a lifetime.
Either way, chopping down your own Christmas tree will be an event to remember.
"The first time I brought my kids here we all fell in the mud trying to chop down the tree and pick it up," shares mother of four, Darla Roxas. "We ended up taking a picture of it and sent it out as our family photo. Now we do it every year. We're a family of comedians so it gets pretty crazy out here. Somehow it always ends in a mud fight."
If you thought living in Arizona would deprive you of such an exhilarating experience then you'll be happy to know that Arizona does harvest a few Christmas tree farms.
The only requirements are registering for a permit, $10. These permits are similar to fishing or hunting permit; however, they are less extensive.
Where there was once a drawing and online application for a Christmas tree cutting tag that is no longer the case.
A new rule to take note of in 2008 all you have to do is go to a designated store to purchase a tag; they run for $15.
According to Judy Hedding, About.com guide to Phoenix, "Things you need to know: In order to harvest that perfect Christmas tree, you must obtain a tag (permit). Permits are issued for harvesting one tree less than 10 feet tall, per family, per year. Only individuals/families may purchase a tag and the tree must be used in their household. Trees may be harvested during the period between November 22nd and December 24th. Along with your tag, you will receive a map showing your tag's cutting area, tree-cutting instructions, safety precaution reminders and a tree identification fact sheet."
You can pick up a Christmas tree-cutting tag at select Big 5 Sporting Goods store locations in Avondale, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and a few other locations outside the Metro area.
Four national forests are providing tags to Big 5 Sporting Goods for over-the-counter sales. There is Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest with 2,100 tags available for all species in their tree-cutting areas. The Kaibab National Forest has 1,000 tags available for one cutting area. The Prescott National Forest offers 450 tags this year. The Tonto National Forest has 300 tags.
For more information you may call the Christmas tree hotline at 602-225-5258 or visit the Forest Service online at www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.