Forest officials announced today that last year’s highly successful partnership with Arizona Big 5 Sporting Goods stores to sell Arizona national forest Christmas tree-cutting tags will be repeated again this year, with over-the-counter tag sales beginning on Saturday, Oct. 10.
The traditional annual drawing for a Christmas tree-cutting tag on Arizona national forests was completely eliminated last year and replaced by over-the-counter tag sales at selected Big 5 Sporting Goods stores.
Tag prices were also increased last year from $10 to $15 per tag, the first price increase in approximately 35 years.
Program chairperson Candy Luhrsen announced that this year there are 6,375 tags available for the Christmas tree-cutting program, up by 2,525 tags from last year. Five national forests are providing tags to Big 5 Sporting Goods for over-the-counter sales:
The Apache-Sitgreaves NF has 4,600 tags available for all species in their tree-cutting areas. The Coconino NF has 250 tags available for fir trees. The Kaibab NF has 1,000 tags available for one cutting area (Tusayan Ranger District) restricted to piñon or juniper.
The Prescott NF offers 225 tags this year for any tree species in two recommended cutting areas. The Tonto NF has 300 tags for either piñon or juniper this year for one cutting area around Payson.
The Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott national forests will also be selling tags over the counter. Each forest should be contacted directly for further information about their over-the-counter tag sales. The following are their contact telephone numbers:
• Apache-Sitgreaves NF: 928-333-4301
• Coconino NF: 928-527-3600
• Kaibab NF: 928-635-5600 (Williams Ranger District)
• Prescott NF: 928-443-8000
For many decades, customers obtained a tag application form from one of many locations throughout the Valley, filled it out, mailed it by a specified deadline, and then waited several weeks to learn if they were successful — or not — in getting a tag for the preferred cutting area.
“Now, when the tags go on sale, a customer will walk into a local Big 5 Sporting Goods store and buy a tag for their preferred cutting area — or a second or third choice if the preferred area tags are sold out. Based on customer feedback, three more stores have been added by Big 5 Sporting Goods stores for increased customer convenience: Kingman, Mojave and Yuma.” This brings the total number of Big 5 Sporting Goods locations throughout Arizona to 15 stores where the tags can be purchased.
“Some families have a favorite cutting area and have returned there year after year,” Luhrsen observes.
“For some customers, this very nostalgic tradition goes way, way back. I urge all who are interested to act quickly in purchasing a tag for their preferred cutting location.
“When the tags are gone, they’re gone,” cautioned Luhrsen.