Coloradans who celebrate the tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree on federal lands face a two-fold challenge this year when it comes to picking out the perfect sapling.
While residents can still get a permit to cut down a tree in some of the national forests, Colorado's unprecedented year of wildfires and the coronavirus pandemic have imposed limitations to the process.
"Due to the East Troublesome and Williams Fork wildfire closure areas, the Sulphur Ranger District will have reduced tree cutting areas in Grand County this year," a news release from the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests Pawnee National Grassland announced.
More than 417,000 acres of land burned in northern Colorado between the East Troublesome, Williams Fork and Cameron Peak fires. That left Christmas tree cutting areas along the northern Front Range relegated to Elk Creek area near Winter Park and Fraser.
Christmas tree permits weren't available for the Roosevelt National Forest in Larimer County, which included shutting down sales the Red Feather Lakes and in the Pingree Park area.
"District staff will be diligently working to identify another location for Christmas tree cutting to resume in December 2021," the release said.
But for the areas that are open such as the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and White River National Forest, social distancing, reduced crowd sizes and other safety measures were instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19.