FROSTPROOF, Fla. — You’ve probably heard about supply chain issues impacting Christmas tree sales.
But if you're willing to come up with a $10 fee, drive a little bit and put in some serious sweat equity, you can get yourself a fresh 10-to-15-foot pine courtesy of Florida’s forestry service.
“With the prices of trees now in other places, I think it’s an excellent idea,” Homer Gordon said. He was out scouting for a Christmas tree in the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest Tuesday.
"Just bring the grandkids out here and let them experience it with you," he said. "That’s what we’re going to do tomorrow."
This year the state forestry service is selling permits for just $10 to let people choose, cut, and take home their own Sand Pine tree. Here are the rules – up to 15 feet, no chainsaws allowed and they have to be cut by hand.
“It is a little bit of effort, but Sand Pines are a pretty soft tree. So, they cut pretty easy,” said the Forestry Service’s Nathan Bartosek.
The forestry service has been offering the deal since 2010, with some folks making it a family tradition. It's good for the environment, they say, since the native Sand Pines can quickly overtake an area.
The trees look good, smell good, and are especially important this year – there’s no shortage of them.
“There’s something to be said for going and doing it yourself. And getting your hands dirty a little bit. And, you know you can look at that tree in your living room and go, I went and got that tree,” Bartosek said.
“Last year they were getting up there, and we figure with the supply chain like it is and everything,” Gordon said. “Everything is more expensive. You can’t beat this price,” he said laughing.
The permit to cut down your own Christmas tree is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 A.M. and 4 P.M. at the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest office located on County Road 630 in Frostproof, Florida.
Each permit entitles the holder to one tree which can be taken between now and December 22.
State Forestry workers say the Sand Pines do just great with regular water like other Christmas trees. And they should last just as long as those brought in from out of state.