You can cut down your Christmas tree from a National Forest. Here’s how.

In the movie, “Elf,” Buddy’s decision to cut down a tree in Central Park to decorate his dad’s New York City apartment was definitely illegal. But there is a way to cut down a tree on public property that is totally by the books. 

According to the U.S. Forest Service most national forests actually allow people to harvest the trees for personal use, including purposes such as firewood and for Christmas trees. Eighty-eight forests in the United States participate, Babete Anderson, spokesperson for the Forest Service, told USA TODAY.

To cut down a tree, you simply need a Forest Service-issued permit.

“We sell over 200,000 tree permit[s] each year,” Anderson said.

Earlier this year, the Forest Service announced it would “modernize” its approach to selling permits, which have been available on Recreation.gov since Oct. 15. The decision to allow online permit purchases is not just one of convenience but also can help minimize in-person interactions as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. That said, permits can still be purchased at local offices.

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