Let's face it: Christmas trees are expensive. You're generally looking at a price tag of at least $100 for something that might last a few weeks. So what about the hundreds of thousands of free-range trees growing all over the public lands of New York state?

Christmas Trees in New York State

I grew up down the road from a Christmas tree farm in Ulster County, and every year I always wondered the same thing; "why would you pay for a tree on a farm when there's so many others just ready for the cutting?" Personally, I was spoiled for choice. We had tons of festive trees on our property that I could cut for exactly zero dollars. But what about on public land?

Bergadder/arlutz73 via Canva
Bergadder/arlutz73 via Canva

The DEC is on the Prowl

"Ranger McCartney heard someone approaching him on the trail while he was checking the register at Moss Lake [in Herkimer county]", began a recent press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC). "Ranger McCartney observed a subject dragging a freshly cut spruce tree and carrying a saw toward a pickup truck in the parking lot", it continued. The sharper tacks may already see where this s going...

Once the subject loaded the tree into his truck, Ranger McCartney educated him about regulations prohibiting the cutting of trees by the public on State land, regardless of its potential use in holiday celebrations.

So... Is it Legal?

Got that? NO, you can't cut a tree down on public land. You also can't adopt a wild raccoon or bottle stream water to sell to city tourists. As the saying about public land goes, "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints".

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