When it come to finding the perfect real Christmas tree for your family, there's two routes you can take.  Comb one of the tree lots in the Treasure Valley or take a road trip with the family to chop it down yourself.

Experts have forecasted a shortage of live trees available to tree lots in the Treasure Valley this year and you'll pay a little more for the trees that are on the lots for the that reason.  One Boise nursery has started taking pre-orders to ensure that families who consider a live tree the centerpiece of their Christmas celebration don't miss out on one.  The nursery is the North End Organic Nursery on Chinden.  Their trees range between $39-$215 depending on the tree's height and what type of tree it is.

Fuse, ThinkStock

You've made your Christmas shopping list, checked it twice and realized a tree like that is a little out of your budget this year. Well, then go all Clark Griswold and take the family on a road trip to the Salmon-Challis National Forest to cut down your own tree for $5! Christmas tree tags for the Salmon-Challis National Forest region are on sale now and each family can buy up to two tags.

Tags are available at Kimball Oil (Highway 93 N in Challis,) Yankee Fork Interpretive Site (Highway 93 and State Highway 75 in Challis,) Stage Stop Junction (100 Railroad Street in Leadore,) Sammy's (318 West Custer in Mackay,) Salmon Oil (500 S. Challis Street in Salmon,) Cycles, Cleds and Saws (5 Demick Lane in Salmon,) Service Grocery (519 Union Ave in Salmon) and Jerry's Country Store (State Highway 75 in Lower Stanley.) You can also pick up tags at any Salmon-Challis National Forest Office.

Before you take a saw to the trunk of any tree, the USDA-Forest Service reminds you to follow the following rules:

  • Do not cut trees within 300 feet of campgrounds, streams, lakes or ponds
  • Cut your tree at least 100 ft. away from either side of any main road.  You'll need to be 200 feet back from Highway 93 and 1/4 mile back from Salmon River Road.
  • Don't cut your tree wherever you feel like it! You need to cut it below the lowest whorl or limb. If the trunk is wider than 8 inches at 4.5 feet above the ground, you can't cut that one down.
  • Make sure you place a tag around the bole of the tree before moving it.  That tag's got to be signed and attached to the tree in a way that if you tried to take it off, it would ruin the tree.
  • You can't cut down trees in plantations or a tree that's standing by itself with no other trees growing around it.
  • You may NOT cut down a tree at Pass Creek Narrows, Big Hill Pine Plantation or Freeman Creek Plantations.

If you want to cut down your tree now and have it still look fresh for the holidays, the forest service recommends placing it in a bucket of water indoors or packing it in snow, wrapped in burlap outdoors (which may be a little hard to do without any significant snowfall on the ground in the Treasure Valley.)

We should have information on tags for the Sawtooth National Forest soon!