Many of you may recall a scene from the popular movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, where the Griswold family goes shopping for the family Christmas tree. While the movie does exaggerate the pitfalls of the experience, many of us are aware from our own experience that this family outing can sometimes be quite a hassle. For those of you searching for the perfect live Christmas tree, the Halsey forest might be just the ticket for that family outing.
The Bessey Ranger District has Christmas tree permits available for sale again this year at their office from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Bessey office is located at 40637 River Loop, near Halsey.
The tree permits are $10 per tree, and will include a map, cutting guidelines and travel recommendations. Folks will also be issued a free motorized vehicle users map to clearly show roads and trails designated open for public use by travel management. Permit holders may cut either a Ponderosa Pine or Eastern Red Cedar, and folks are reminded to not leave more than a six inch stump. Tags are provided that need to be attached to the base of the tree before removing it from National Forest land.
Only a few areas are closed to cutting, and these include the Bessey Administrative Complex, the Nebraska 4-H Camp, Signal Hill Resource Natural Area, Natick Campground and Whitetail Campground.
Travel management has been implemented on the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands to address growing demands for motorized recreation on Forest and Grasslands, while protecting people and natural resources, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat as well as conservation of cultural and paleo resources. Signs are posted and free motor vehicle use maps, or MVUMs, are available at all offices or posted at www.fs.fed.us/r2/nebraska 
There are also a number of Nebraska Christmas tree farms where fresh trees are available.
“Many Nebraskans are beginning their quest to find the perfect, fresh Christmas tree,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach. “When considering your options, please think about visiting one of Nebraska’s numerous Christmas tree operations. Not only will you be getting one of the freshest trees available, but the money you spend will stay in our local economy.”
Nebraska’s Christmas tree operations offer numerous varieties of Pine, Spruce, and Fir trees. Many of the farms also offer wreaths, swags, and garlands, as well as family experiences such as wagon rides, children’s activities, pony rides, campfires, and snacks. Many farms are pet-friendly and offer gift and craft shops as well. Other services offered by some of the farms include tree cutting, cleaning, netting, and loading assistance.
To assist Nebraskans with locating Christmas tree farms, NDA has updated the Nebraska Christmas Tree Growers Directory, featuring tree farms throughout the state.
Ibach also is encouraging Nebraskans to consider local options for gift ideas this holiday season.
“Holiday gift giving can sometimes be a daunting and difficult task, but numerous Nebraska companies are available to help you in your gift purchasing,” Ibach said. “The Nebraska Holiday Brochure is a good, quick reference of Nebraska companies that can make your gift giving experience easier.”
Among the pages of the brochure, consumers will find Nebraska food and meat companies that package food products year-round in a variety of different ways. Meat products range from the traditional Nebraska beef and pork, to bison and ostrich meats. Food products include candies, desserts, jellies, baking mixes, pastas, wines, and seasonings.
Both listings are available online at www.agr.ne.gov  or by calling 800-422-6692.