Fancy getting your Christmas tree from Cypress Hills?
“Trim Your Tree” is back for the holiday season. Up until December 24, people can pick out and chop down a Christmas tree from a designated area in the park.
Free tree permits and maps providing directions to the designated tree-cutting area are available at the park administration office.
Tips for cutting a tree include: bring an axe or saw; wear warm clothing (ski pants and boots etc.); have a sled or toboggan to haul the tree out of the forest, as well as straps or ties to secure your tree on the roof of your vehicle.
Royce Pettyjohn, park manager, said there were many benefits to “Trim Your Tree”.
“As a natural environmental park, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Saskatchewan takes seriously its role as a steward of the unique ecosystem represented by the park,” he said.
“The park also takes appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the park each year.
“In order to ensure a healthy and sustainable forest, and to ensure public safety, the park implements the principles of the FireSmart program, which involves reducing fuel loads and ladder fuels in the vicinity of the park’s core area.”
Pettyjohn said the 2020 “Trim Your Tree” Christmas tree harvesting area was along both side the park’s Emergency Exit Road. The emergency exit road is a critical escape route for park residents and visitors in the event of a crisis, and also serves as an important fire break within the park.
“The spruce trees designated for the Christmas tree harvest program are young spruce trees that have encroached into this fire break, which given their size would act as ladder fuel during a forest fire potentially creating an extremely dangerous crown fire.
“Over time these trees would also eventually overtake the emergency exit road, limiting its effectiveness as a safe public escape route. Therefore, these young spruce trees need to be removed.
“However, rather than just mulching these young spruce trees, the park wanted to provide the public with an opportunity to become involved with both aiding in forest health and public safety by helping remove these encroaching trees. What better way than to see these encroaching spruce put to good use as ecologically friendly Christmas trees!”
Pettyjohn said the “Trim Your Tree” Christmas tree harvesting program is a win for forest health, a win for FireSmart, a win for public safety, and a win for public enjoyment of the beautiful Cypress Hills in the winter.
“Any future ‘Trim Your Tree’ Christmas tree harvest areas in the park will be directly tied to the park’s ecosystem-based management plan, forestry management plan, and FireSmart/public safety strategies,” he said.
“Through sound stewardship, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Saskatchewan will remain a safe and sustainable park for generations to come.”