The annual hunt for the p erfect Christmas tree begins today with many families heading out into federal forestlands in southwestern Oregon.

The annual hunt for the p erfect Christmas tree begins today with many families heading out into federal forestlands in southwestern Oregon.

Some 8,000 Christmas tree permits for personal use are expected to be sold in the coming weeks on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District.

The $5 permits can be used on either BLM or national forest land.

"This is something a lot of families look forward to doing every year," said forest spokeswoman Patty Burel, who added that popular species include conifers like Shasta red fir and Noble fir found in the higher mountains.

When a permit is purchased, maps and information about cutting areas and restricted areas are also provided. Permit holders can harvest any tree species shorter than 12 feet on the public lands.

Basically, Christmas tree cutting is not permitted within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the Wild and Scenic Rogue River corridor and recreation areas such as the Table Rocks, developed campgrounds and picnic areas. Cutting is also prohibited in posted tree plantations or within 200 feet of state highways.

Trees should be cut as close to the ground as possible and not more than a foot above the ground. In addition, another tree should be growing within 12 feet of the tree being cut.

Once a tree is cut, a permit should be validated by cutting out the year and date indicated on the permit and securely attached to the tree trunk before it is transported.

One household is limited to one permit but a person can purchase up to five permits, officials said, noting that several families often team up for the annual excursion. Neither the permits nor the trees can be resold.

All agency offices will be open today.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.recreation areas such as the Table Rocks, developed campgrounds and picnic areas. Cutting is also prohibited in posted tree plantations or within 200 feet of state highways.

Trees should be cut as close to the ground as possible and not more than a foot above the ground. In addition, another tree should be growing within 12 feet of the tree being cut.

Once a tree is cut, a permit should be validated by cutting out the year and date indicated on the permit and securely attached to the tree trunk before it is transported.

One household is limited to one permit but a person can purchase up to five permits, officials said, noting that several families often team up for the annual excursion. Neither the permits nor the trees can be resold.

All agency offices will be open today.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.