Mat-Su Borough invites residents to harvest their own Christmas tree at Jim Creek

Besides the $5 fee to park at the recreation site, it’s completely free to do with a permit
Besides the $5 fee to park at the recreation site, it’s completely free to do with a permit
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:52 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - After closing down tree harvesting last year, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has opened up a new spot in the Jim Creek area for residents interested in cutting down their own Christmas tree this year. The new area spans about 22 acres surrounding Jim Creek Recreational Campground, that’s according to the borough’s Natural Resource Manager, Emerson Krueger.

“It’s a great opportunity to kind of kick off the holidays with your kids and your spouse, walking through the woods and sharing the different tasks,” Krueger said. “It’s all kind of part of the holiday for a lot of people.”

The borough has been allowing Christmas tree harvesting since 2015 and averages 30-50 permits a year. After the state experienced a shortage of Christmas trees in 2020, the borough saw over 120 applications for permits leading them to run out of eligible stock for the 2021 harvest season.

According to Krueger, allowing people to harvest trees out of the forest each year actually serves as an asset.

“It’s seen as a benefit for the forest health over the long term,” Krueger said. “By lowering the density of the white spruce saplings, it gives the trees more light so they end up growing more healthy.”

In the area currently open for harvest, Krueger said there are about 447 spruce saplings that the borough would like to see removed.

Obtaining a permit is required before taking a tree, and can be obtained through the borough’s website at no cost. Users will still be required to pay any fees associated with using the recreational site.

“Failure to get a permit results in an unauthorized harvest of a borough resource, which can be a $150 fine,” Krueger stated. “But the permits are free.”

Trees must be no more than 15ft in height and topping trees is prohibited. While no roads or trails will be maintained for tree cutting, all-terrain vehicles are still allowed in the area while the harvest runs through Dec. 25.

“We ask people to be mindful of other people around them and to watch out for wildlife,” Krueger said.

A full list of harvesting guidelines as well as a detailed map of the harvest area can be found here. Krueger said the area is marked with red and white stripe flagging.