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Did you know you can actually cut down your own Christmas tree in a national forest? I always assumed that taking anything from a national forest would be a federal offense. Apparently not if you have $5.

You have to purchase a Christmas tree permit through Recreation.gov/tree-permits, which allows you to go to the listed national forest of your choice and chop down your own tree. The website says: “A memorable experience, cutting a holiday tree is a special tradition to share with family and friends while helping to maintain a healthy forest.” That’s right, the permits actually help maintain the forests’ overall health by thinning out the densely populated stands of small-diameter trees. And where else are you going to get a Christmas tree for five bucks?

So let’s review: fresh air, beautiful tree, environmentally conscious, and super affordable. It looks like the closest eligible national forest to Charlotte is Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. If you’re up for a road trip, this deal is hard to beat. It’s also a holiday experience that you’ll likely cherish for years to come.

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