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National forests’ Christmas tree permits going, going – and gone in some

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PHOENIX – Those hoping to bring home a Christmas tree from one of Arizona’s national forests had better pick up the pace.

One reason for speed: The Coconino National Forest sold all of its 600 Christmas tree permits on Tuesday less than two weeks after sales began, while Prescott National Forest sold out in just a week last month.

As of Friday, permits were still available from the Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests.

“Call or visit an office now because they do go quickly,” said Jackie Banks, a spokeswoman for Kaibab National Forest.

A Christmas tree permit, which is good through Christmas Eve, costs $15 and is for a specific area. Some areas have limited numbers of permits available and sell out quickly.

Kaibab started the season with 1,500 permits to sell and as of Thursday had 400 remaining for the North Kaibab Ranger District and 100 for the Tusayan Ranger District.

“I think it’s a family tradition that deserves to be seen over and over again because of how beautiful the scenery is and the memories that are created,” Banks said.

Carrie Templin, a spokeswoman for the Tonto National Forest, said Thursday that 1,000 permits were still available through offices in Phoenix, Mesa and Payson.

“We did not run out last year and we believe we have plenty this year,” she said.

Brady Smith, a spokesman for the Coconino National Forest, said it appears that permits went faster than last year, but he said he’s uncertain why that’s the case. Permits were sold only at ranger stations this year, while last year they were also available at Big 5 Sporting Goods.

Prescott National Forest reports selling all of its 450 Christmas tree permits by Nov. 24.

Certain Big 5 Sporting Goods locations are selling tree-cutting permits for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, but Marta Call, a spokeswoman for the Apache-Sitgreaves, said those were going quickly. At last count, about 1,100 to 1,500 permits out of the original 7,500 were still available through stores or through the Apache-Sitgreaves offices.

“We usually don’t sell out, but we started a little earlier than usual this year based on demand,” Call said.