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Here's how you can cut down your own Christmas tree in Washington

KING 5 Environmental Reporter Michael Crowe went to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to hunt for his own family's Christmas tree this year.

WASHINGTON — Did you know you can cut down your own Christmas tree in Washington state? It's an activity the U.S. Forest says seems to be growing in popularity this year.

In the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, there are several areas to choose from where you can scout out your best tree -- but you do need to get a permit.

The Forest Service also says be prepared for winter conditions, so you don't get stuck or stranded in the mountains.

There's been an uptick in permit applications for Christmas trees this year. The Forest Service says in a usual year they receive anywhere from 6,000 to 6,500 applications, but this year they've received 8,000. Officials chalk it up to people looking for a little adventure during the pandemic. 

The Forest Service does have strict regulations on where you can cut down your tree, and about distances and heights, all of which can be found on your permit, or on the Forest Service website

So, it may require a little bushwhacking to find your perfect tree, and be prepared that they likely won't look like the ones you find at the store.

"You know, they're harder to find. They're not always as pretty. But I think it's something your children and your families will remember if you take them," said Colton Whitworth, with the Forest Service. 

Cutting down your own tree can also help the local forests. 

The Forest Service says this has the added benefit of letting people thin out some of those smaller trees that can be excess fuel for potential wildfires. 

So, they encourage everyone to try it out, just be sure to request your permit first and be ready for the winter conditions. 

Happy tree hunting!