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Chopping down your own Christmas tree this year? Not so fast...

A Balsam fir tree ready to brighten someone's living room this Christmas.
A Balsam fir tree ready to brighten someone's living room this Christmas.

Now that December is here, and people have started decorating for Christmas, a reminder to B.C. residents that if you want to chop down your own Christmas tree you'd better have a permit.

While social media feeds everywhere show happy, chilly families posing by the trees they cut down themselves on Crown land, it is possible for conservation officers to issue fines to anyone felling a Christmas tree without a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The permits are available free of charge to anyone who is 19 or older through the ministry website here and must be carried while harvesting the tree. They indicate the maximum number of trees that can be harvested, which in most areas is three per family.

Trees can only be taken from designated areas that includes Crown land rights-of-way, within three meters of logging roads and open range lands. Trees cannot be taken from private lands, plantations, parks, research areas, watersheds or juvenile-spaced trees.

The Ministry recommends you bring ropes, gloves, tools, tire chains, a first aid kit, cell phone and warm clothing with you when you take to the back country in search of that perfect tree. Be careful of logging trucks on forest service roads and choose a tree that is easy to harvest.

Tree farms are another option for those who want to cut down their own Christmas tree. For a list of tree farms around the Thompson-Okanagan, visit the B.C. Christmas Tree Council's website here.

— This story was originally published Dec. 1, 2015.

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