BALDWIN —  With the holidays fast approaching, the Huron-Manistee National Forests are once again offering a free Christmas tree tag to any fourth grade student with an Every Kid in a Park pass.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience our National Forests,” said Huron-Manistee National Forests Timber Program Manager Jeff Bellaire. “Searching for the perfect Christmas tree is a great way for families to create lifelong memories.”

To participate in this opportunity, fourth grade students must first obtain a pass from Students may then present their pass at a USDA Forest Service office to receive a free Christmas tree tag, a map of National Forest lands, and guidelines for cutting their tree.

Christmas tree tags also are available to the general public at a cost of $5. Each tag is valid for one conifer from the Huron-Manistee National Forests, and families may purchase up to three tags per household.

Families should plan carefully to ensure a safe and successful Christmas tree cutting adventure. Good planning begins with wearing warm, waterproof clothing and packing the following items:

• A handsaw or similar instrument to cut the tree;

• Pruning shears to trim low-hanging branches near the tree’s stump;

• Rope or cables to secure the tree to the vehicle; and

• Food and water.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests recommend budgeting several hours to locate and cut a Christmas tree. People also are advised to tell a friend or neighbor where they are going and when they will be back, and to be prepared for unplowed forest roads.

Harvesting a Christmas tree from the Huron-Manistee National Forests can be great fun if done responsibly. Individuals who purchase a Christmas tree tag should adhere to the following guidelines:

• Harvest trees only on National Forest System lands that are open for cutting.

• Cut only conifers that are less than 20 feet tall.

• Ensure stumps are less than six inches tall.

• Cut trees for personal use only.

• Attach a valid Christmas tree tag to each tree before removing it from the site at which it was cut.

• Keep the tag attached to trees in transit.

To prolong the life of a Christmas tree harvested from National Forest System lands, cut the bottom inch from the trunk before placing it in a stand. Christmas trees should be watered daily and kept away from heat sources such as vents and fireplaces.

Christmas tree tags will be available at the Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger Station, 650 N. Michigan Ave., until Dec. 21.