Picking the perfect pine
They can be found in parking lots or hilltops. Some are used for charity, others for forest thinning. All require water, a stable stand and unanimous approval.
With 20 days left before Christmas, the demand for evergreen has increased at nonprofit lots that import trees from Oregon and the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce which sells tree-cutting permits.
On a cool Tuesday night, about five members from the Optimist Club of South Lake Tahoe huddled in a trailer. At the sight of a potential customer, the door opened and men spilled out with smiles and gloved hands.
“Nobles are our best sellers,” Art Slaback said.
The noble and Douglas firs are shipped from Oregon while the Silver Tips are harvested locally, Slaback said. Roughly four shipments of 300 trees each creates the supply to meet the demand.
The demand, Slaback said, mostly arrives on the weekends. But on Tuesday night, the Brejc family, celebrating their second Christmas in Tahoe, selected a tree. Max, 5, sat on his father’s shoulders, triumphantly carrying a tree of unknown origin.
Renee Brejc said the rule for picking a tree is that the decision must be a family consensus. Out of the three, only Max initially opposed the selection. He relented but couldn’t answer why the change of opinion, since his face was buried in a cup of popcorn.
Like in other lots, Optimists sell their trees based on height. Sales, about $25,000 each season, are routed to community donations for youth sports and high school scholarships, Slaback said.
“I like buying it from somebody who donates the money,” Renee Brejc said.
Others have a different tradition, said Teresa Burkhauser, executive director for Alpine County Chamber of Commerce in Markleeville.
Burkhauser said she has sold about 80 of the 200 Christmas tree permits for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The $10 permits went on sale Nov. 12 and will continue until Christmas Eve or until they are gone.
Mike and Damira Amodeo bought their permit Tuesday. They were found hiking around Burnside looking for a tree. Mike was armed with a saw. Damira had a camera.
The couple enjoyed a picnic before hunting for trees 5 feet tall.
“We hope to (find a tree) but if not, we’ll come back,” Damira said.
Tree-cutting in the basin is prohibited. Certain rules and regulations apply to cutting trees in Alpine County. For more information on the permits, call the U.S. Forest Service for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest at (530) 694-2911 or (775) 882-2766.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A flash flood watch has been issued for the Lake Tahoe Basin.