.christmas treePeople – I know it’s the holiday season and you want to get back to your roots and put up a Christmas tree in your apartment – but please, please, please don’t drive into the Angeles National Forest to cut one down.

In other parts of the country, population centers are smaller and trees grow more plentifully, so the Forest Service will let you go chop down your own evergreen for a fee (and with some rules, naturally). But here in Southern California’s National Forests, the trees are sparse and most of the accessible pines are planted for erosion control, so going all Christmas Vacation is a no-no.

Rangers are on the lookout for tree-poachers, and will charge you a $500 fine, an additional fine of up to three times the tree’s value, AND up to six months in jail if they see you taking an axe to a ponderosa pine off the Angeles Crest. So maybe just head to a lot or pick up one of those cinnamon wreaths from Trader Joe’s instead?

Image by Barbara Piancastelli.

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Modern Hiker
Since founding Modern Hiker in 2006, Casey's writing has appeared in Backpacker, the REI Blog, Adventure Journal, and Sierra Trading Post's Social Hub. He was in Columbia Sportswear's inaugural #OmniTen program and was featured prominently in their documentary "I Am #OmniTen."

His stories for Modern Hiker have brought regional and national attention, and have been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press.

Casey is also an award-winning television writer-producer, and was Series Producer of pivot's TakePart Live and Head Writer of G4's Attack of the Show.

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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on December 4, 2012


  • It’s a bit boggling to believe that it’s not obvious to “take only pictures and leave only footprints”.

    I hope that Kristin called the police and made a report.

  • Kristin Sabo says:

    And please don’t go into our City parks and start ripping off pieces of plants and trees to make your holiday wreathes.

    In the rainy weather on Sunday, I met two families doing exactly this in Griffith Park – both had broken off pieces of memorial trees and plants for their wreathes at home and were leaving with them when encountered. These particular folks were impervious to educating on the issue, sadly. Neither seemed to care a wit that what they were doing was wrong on many levels, not to mention illegal (theft/vandalism). The only thing that got their attention is that they might be cited.

    Self-centered, bad behavior all around that was being taught to the children they had with them. Ugh.

    Knowing that this activity seems to be common, let’s all work a little harder on promoting good stewardship of our parks and open spaces during the holiday season.

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