For the Notte-Steele family of Rutland, it's about seeing the tree through the forest.
"We kind of took a ride for a couple of weekends. We went to Lincoln and all sorts of places but when we came here I was like, oh my god, this is the most I've ever seen in one spot -- this is going to be great," said Sabra Notte-Steele.
They found the tree in Ripton last weekend, but waited until all their kids could be together this Sunday to cut it down. "It's like the perfect tree. It's one of the best ones that we've ever found," Notte-Steele said.
This is their third year tracking down their own tree -- and they're not alone. So far this year the Forest Service has sold more than 200 permits, and they expect that number to keep climbing as it gets closer to Christmas.
"It's just nice to have something to do with five kids that takes some time and doesn't cost a million dollars to do it," Notte-Steele said.
It's an activity that costs just $5 to be exact. That's the price of the permit you need from the Forest Service. You put the orange sticker on your tree after you've taken it down. And that's not the only rule the Forest Service says you must obey -- there are others. For example, the tree can't be more than 20 feet tall, you only get one tree per household per year, you can't cut it above six inches from the ground, you must avoid camping areas and you can't cut down a tree within 25 feet of a Forest Service or public road.
For this family it was a quick walk down the beaten path that led them to their tree. They say they doubt most people realize just how fast and easy finding the right tree can be. "Because we have kids from 16 to 6 we can't be bringing the 6-year-old over rocks and mountains. These guys can do it, but the little ones can't," Notte-Steele said. And for their youngest, Malia, it's not just about cutting it down, but about taking it home to dress it up.
"Usually we'll put the ornaments right here. And the star will go up there," said Malia Notte-Steele.
With 400-thousand acres of National Forest here in Vermont, this family believes there could be a tree out there for everyone.
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