Trim a Tree in Cypress Hills Saskatchewan

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park in Saskatchewan has implemented a new park initiative for visitors to cut down their very own Christmas Trees.

Does it get any more Canadian than this!?

READ MORE: Winter in Cypress Hills Provincial Park: A Complete Guide to the Best Activities

Hauling out a tree I cut down along the fire break in Cypress Hills Provincial Park

Experience Trimming a Christmas Tree in Cypress Hills Provincial Park

The snow was powdery but deep and surprisingly hard to navigate in ski pants and boots. I lead the way by creating a narrow trail along the yet-to-be-plowed Emergency Exit Road so my mom and dad could follow along in my footsteps. Puffs of breath snuck out from under the high collar of my jacket and dissipated in the cold winter air as we walked on.

READ MORE: How to Dress for Saskatchewan’s Cold Weather

Standing in the deep snow, we realized how deceptive the size of a tree in the forest is. Many of the trees towered over us and were too tall for the standard eight-foot ceiling in a home.

Chopping a tree down in Cypress Hills Provincial Park

Using my height as a guide, I found a hearty white spruce. I shook tufts of snow off the branches and used a shovel to clear the base. I would need space to swing the axe. Despite my efforts, powdery snow poofed everywhere and dusted me in white as I landed my first swing.

Several chops later, I took a break and zipped the collar of my jacket down. Felling a tree is warm work. With a few more swings (axe head angled down – a tip from my dad), my tree slowly toppled into the deep snow. Picking it up, I raised it above my head in triumph, a grin wide across my face.

The perfect-sized Christmas tree for my home.

But we were only half done as my mom has a tree to trim as well. Further along our snow trail, she spotted the perfect tree. Similar in size to mine, she readied herself with the axe while I shovelled the snow away for her. Within minutes, her little tree joined mine. Dad was busy snapping photos for us while we all shared the moment together.

Loading the tree up on my shoulder (and Dad carrying Mom’s) we trudged back to the truck to load it in the box and strap it down. With the hard work completed, we headed back to The Resort to celebrate with warm cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Mom with her tree as part of the “Trim a Tree” program in Cypress Hills.

How To Cut Your Own Christmas Tree in Cypress Hills

Visitors are invited to cut their very own Christmas Trees in Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan. Permits can be picked up at the park admin office from November 26th until December 23rd, 2022. The permit is free with the cost of the park entry fee.

You’ll also receive a map of the region and directions to the designated tree-cutting area.

Tips to Cut Down Your own Christmas Tree

Before heading into the forest to cut your very own Christmas tree, you’ll want to be prepared and plan ahead.

  • Bring appropriate hand tools. An axe or saw is best. A hatchet can work depending on the size of the tree.
  • Wear warm gear. You’ll need a toque, mittens, a warm jacket (layer up as you’ll likely get warm while cutting the tree down), ski pants and winter boots. Snowshoes might even be a good idea depending on how far you walk for your tree. (Read more on how to dress here).
  • A sled or toboggan to help haul the tree out of the forest
  • Ratchet straps or ties to firmly secure your tree on the roof of your vehicle

Why Are We Allowed to Cut Down Trees in a Provincial Park?

Cutting down trees in a protected provincial park is a combination of clever marketing and practical and effective fire management.

The park’s Emergency Exit Road is a critical escape route for residents and visitors. It’s also an important fire break. This is where tree-cutting occurs.

The young trees harvested as part of the “Trim Your Tree” program are encroaching into this fire break. They act as ladder fuel in the event of a forest fire which can potentially create a dangerous crown fire.

These young trees need to be removed. Instead of mulching them, it’s a wonderful opportunity for the public to get involved in forest health and safety.

READ MORE: Winter in Cypress Hills Provincial Park: A Complete Guide to the Best Activities

Cutting Trees as Part of the Fire Safety Management Program

Future harvest areas in the park will be directly tied to the park’s Ecosystem-Based Management Plan, Forestry Management Plan and FireSmart and Public Safety strategies. This sound stewardship will keep Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park a safe and sustainable park for generations to come.

Harvesting Christmas Trees on Crown Land in Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, permits are not required if you want to harvest your own Christmas tree. However, there are several rules to follow and be aware of.

  1. The tree must be harvested on vacant Crown land or in provincial forests.
  2. The tree must be under 4 metres tall.
  3. The tree cannot be taken from a replanted area.

Digital Maps of Crown Land in Saskatchewan

The best digital map to use when looking for a location to harvest your own Christmas Tree is the SaskInteractive Map from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment. To find provincial forests, click on the “layers” feature.

You can also call the nearest Ministry of Environment field office to ask for local advice and the best areas. Additionally, you can call your nearest Ministry of Environment field office where they can provide local advice on the best areas.

Having a hot dog roast with my parents in the lodgepole pines in Cypress Hills Provincial Park

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