Important tips for those planning on cutting down their own Christmas tree this year

Thousands of people each year cut down their own Christmas tree in national forests. Cutting a Christmas tree in a national forest is a tradition for many Utah residents.

Weather conditions in the mountains are unpredictable, so forest officials warn that you should always be prepared for winter weather. Spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollock says you should stay on designated roads and trails. Be prepared for slick, snow-packed roads and have chains, a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a snow machine available.

Let someone know where you are planning to go and approximate time you will return. Pollock says you should carry a cell phone, bring additional warm clothing and gloves, boots and a container of hot liquid, water and a lunch or snack.

Carry a flashlight, chains, shovel, first-aid kit, matches, a hatchet, ax or handsaw and rope to secure your tree. Pollock says trees should always be cut close to the ground leaving the stump no higher than six inches. A shovel will come in handy to dig through the snow to reach the base of the tree.

Make sure your permit is attached to the tree before leaving the cutting area. Tree topping is not allowed.

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