Time to get your tree | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Time to get your tree

Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree, where should I go to purchase thee?

The holiday season is upon us, and in addition to buying all those gifts for loved ones, people have to worry about buying something else – a tree.

And at Lake Tahoe – even though you’ll get fined big time if you cut one down illegally – there are plenty of places where you can get Christmas trees. People can purchase them pre-cut or travel – not too far – outside the basin to cut down their own.

Some options include:

nThe South Lake Tahoe Optimist Club has provided an annual Christmas tree sale to the community for more than 30 years. Last Friday the Optimists gathered at the El Dorado Beach parking lot on Harrison Avenue to unload a shipment of trees.

Probably 1,200 to 1,400 trees will be sold over the next month, and with 100 percent of the work coming from volunteers, the proceeds go back into the community.

The money supports a wide variety of programs, including an alcohol-free grad night at South Tahoe and Whittell high schools, Boy and Girl Scouts, Little League and other sports programs, Boys and Girls Club and more.

“Trees are pricey anyway. At least this money isn’t going into someone’s pockets. It’s going back into the community somewhere,” said Bob Davies of the Optimist Club.

The tree sale is one of the Optimist Club’s two biggest annual fund-raisers. Between it, donations, pancake breakfasts, special events and its other big fund-raiser, a yearly car raffle, the volunteer group raises $75,000 to $100,000 a year for the community.

nEl Dorado County has more than 30 Christmas tree farms, where people can go to cut their own down.

“It’s a large industry here,” said Phyllis McGee, who owns McGee’s Christmas Tree Farm in Placerville with her husband, Michael. “Placerville has in the past been called the Christmas tree capital of the world. That might be stretching it, but the Christmas tree capital of California would be accurate.”

At McGee’s, workers use what’s called “stump culturing,” where eight to 10 branches and the bottom few feet of the trees are left. Within five or six years, the stumps become a full tree again.

McGee said a lot of people enjoy cutting down there own trees because it puts them in the holiday spirit.

“I think it’s nice because it kind of starts building a family tradition,” she said. “It’s something whole families enjoy. Grandma and Grandpa can come, and the little kids can run around the trees.

“I think people like it because it gets them in the mood.”

nThere are two locations in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest where people can go into the forest, choose their own trees and cut them down. One location is north of Truckee; one is south of Markleeville.

Maps to the areas are issued with the permits, available from the agency’s Carson City office and Markleeville Chamber of Commerce.

Surf with Santa

A complete list of all the tree farms in El Dorado County is available by calling the chamber of commerce, (530) 621-5885, or the looking at the El Dorado County Christmas Tree Grower’s Association Web page: http://www.isgnet.com/christmastrees

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