(COLORADO) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its third year of selling Christmas tree permits on Recreation.gov which are currently available. The online access makes it easier for families to get their permit and figure out where to go cut down their tree.

USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore says, “Many families are discovering their local forest for the first time to bring home their special holiday tree.”

Going to Recreation.gov is an alternative to going into a Forest Service office in person. Visitors to the site can look up their nearest national forest which provides information like “cutting area maps, types of trees to cut, and important planning tips on their respective permit pages.”

Fraser, Colorado, USA (getty images)

“It is important to remember that visitors will need to print the permit and display it on the dash of their vehicle on the day of their visit to cut their trees,” says Rick DeLappe, Recreation.gov Program Manager.

The USDA also shares that fourth graders who have an Every Kid Outdoors pass can get a free Christmas tree permit by applying with the pass or voucher number when buying the permit. All children are invited to download this Christmas tree ornament coloring page, color it, and decorate their family’s tree with it.

The benefits of cutting a live tree go beyond making family memories and into the realm of forest conservation. Thinning out densely populated areas of smaller trees allows those that remain to grow bigger and healthier.

Forest health experts from the local area will identify the best spots to thin out the trees and those trees are usually best for Christmas trees. All of this boosts the ecosystem in these small areas.