Many Oregonians will soon don warm socks and sweaters and gather with their loved ones to hang baubles, ornaments and lights from the green, needled branches of a Christmas tree — even though the aromatic holiday evergreens are growing more expensive as the number of Oregon Christmas tree farms and tree supplies dwindle.

Farmed trees cost consumers $78 on average in 2018, and prices are expected to grow even higher this year, The Associated Press reported.

Luckily, the more intrepid Christmas enthusiasts don’t have to rely on expensive farmed trees bought in a grocery store parking lot. And they won’t need to buy one of those plastic fake trees, either.

Instead, Christmas celebrators can venture out into an Oregon national forest, chop down and haul home their own tree. A tree permit comes with a big price perk — the U.S. Forest Service is selling its permits for only $5 a pop.

Permit sales started Nov. 12, and the permits are good for cutting trees through Jan. 6. They can be acquired online for the Deschutes, Willamette, Umatilla, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Ochoco, Mount Hood and Fremont-Winema national forests. Permits purchased online are specific to each national forest, so make sure you know where you want to harvest your tree from before buying.

You can head down to a local U.S. Forest Service office Monday through Friday to buy a permit and get a map of cutting areas. Several retailers also have permits for sale.

With a permit, you can harvest trees up to 12 feet tall or larger in certain forests, and each household can get up to five permits. The Forest Service has a long list of tree cutting requirements and tips online that anyone thinking about harvesting a tree should peruse.

Of course, the Forest Service warns that anyone who ventures into a forest should be prepared for winter weather road conditions and bring along plenty of food, water and warm clothes. Always alert others to your destination and planned return time when heading out to cut down a tree.

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