Christmas Tree Tip: Don’t Buy When You Can Risk Your Life Denuding!

After church last Sunday up in the Northern California town of Paradise, a former Los Angeles resident who hadn’t been in the snow since he was 12 got the idiotic notion what seemed to be a fine idea at the time to haul his three kids up into the mountains in the vicinity of Lassen National Forest and get their Christmas tree the old-fashioned way: by trespassing into the woods, chopping one down without permission and stealing it.

According to the man, they parked off a narrow mountain road in the late afternoon, trudged uphill a bit, picked out and sawed down a tree that was just minding its own indeciduous business, started back downhill in a different direction and –doh! — failed to reacquire the road from which they’d come. After two more hours of marching into the total darkness that had fallen they realized they’d be spending the night al fresco. Then the snowstorm blew in. Later came the frostbite and probably a whole bunch of self-recrimination on daddy’s part and plenty of bitter thinly veiled “I’m related to this guy?” looks from his kids.

Three days later with a lot of faith, hope, luck and a team of 45 search & rescue professionals scouring the area, the four were found in remarkably good condition. Once released from the hospital the kids expressed their excitement at being on National TV (Yippee! Lookatme!! My dad’s a certified doofus who almost got us all killed because he was too cheap to buy a tree at the lot down the street from our house!!!). Not to be outshone by his publicity-hungry spawn their beloved pops demonstrated his capacity to learn from such an ordeal. “Next time I go out there,” he said, “I won’t be a knucklehead.”

Next time??? In an effort to prevent that from happening a quick-thinking local radio station gave him a Christmas tree.

L.A. Times article is here.

P.S. Jaded and snark riddled as I may be, I’m happy all ended well (for everyone involved except maybe that poor tree that they cut down for nothing), but still… if voting wasn’t closed already I’d write-in this guy for L.A. Grinch of the Year. He may not live here anymore but since it seems as if we’re giving the award to the mayor of another city I figure anyone’s fair game.

14 Replies to “Christmas Tree Tip: Don’t Buy When You Can Risk Your Life Denuding!”

  1. I saw that on the news this morning. What an idiot was my first thought. The second was….cutting down a tree in a national forest is a big ass fine, way more than buying a tree at a lot. My opinion changed to complete moron.

    You are correct…those kids were rolling their eyes and hoping their mom’s side of the gene pool is dominant. Mom afterall already divorced the Dad.

    All that aside. I understand the concept of tree farming being renewable, but do we really need to have thousands of trees cut and turned into mulch every year? Wouldn’t a whole lot of healthy living trees reaching adulthood do a lot more to the re-greening and cleaning of the air? My coupla shiny pennies.

  2. That was the best take on this “situation” yet. But I’m still surprised that in this day, getting-lost-in-the-forest stories can still garner so much attention. Next we’ll be hearing not to eat houses made of candies!

  3. As Jaded and snark riddled as you may be, this is exactly the kind of people who should be eliminated from the gene pool. Even after wasting millions of tax payers money to rescue him from his own stupidity, he still says “Next time I go out there…”. Hopefully next time, natural selection will be successful.

  4. Fraz:
    Most trees I’ve ever gotten are grown in tree “farms” reserved for harvesting Christmas trees. They’re not knocking down rainforests for these things. And, in fact, probably benefit the enviornment more than harming it, as the growers benefit from healthier trees.

    Hilarious post Will. On the bright side, this is a FORMER Los Angeles resident.

  5. David, hmmm I said up front I understand tree farming and it being renewable. I have a few tree farmers back in the family tree. I just find it very wasteful and more along the lines of carbon trading than true conservation. It’s better than just whacking out the entire forest and not replanting.

  6. Sorry, Fraz… I’m reading too fast.

    But no. Tree farmers do it to turn a profit. If they just planted and walked away, they wouldn’t do it.

    This is no more wasteful than the floral industry, with fields of flowers they grow just to cut to be turned into arrangements, or any other sort of crop.

    Anyway, we’re hijacking Will’s comments about a guy who actually was being an asshole and attempting to take a tree that wasn’t being farmed. That dude needs to take a break from the 24 hour marathon showings of Christmas Vacation.

  7. According to at least one article, the man had a permit from the USFS to cut down a tree. It’s probably a better way to thin forests than anything the lumber industry comes up with.

  8. Jack London meets Gilligan’s Island.

    I’m sure there’s a reality TV show premise in here somewhere. Something about special olympics merit badges or the like.

  9. I’m GLAD to see this posted, what a Total fool. But what I haven’t seen –or heard: the COST –of Search & Rescue Vs price of just buying already cut tree. If he –anyone, was in Mexico:
    would THEY send out a team –helicopter, dogs to search? I think NOT. WHO will be reimbursing S & R for the costs? Duh….

  10. I’m GLAD to see this posted, what a Total fool. But what I haven’t seen –or heard: the COST –of Search & Rescue Vs price of just buying already cut tree. If he –anyone, was in Mexico:
    would THEY send out a team –helicopter, dogs to search? I think NOT. WHO will be reimbursing S & R for the costs? Duh….

  11. Why can’t they send that dipshit a bill for the rescue efforts? Clearly this was a 100% voluntary act of pure idiocy and narcissism (not to mention theft of the tree). I know what Darwin would say….

    Why should I have to foot the bill for that?

  12. From the 2007 Christmas Tree Permit update [PDF], found on the USDA Forest Service’s Lassen National Forest site:


    Cutting a Christmas tree on the National Forests can be a fun family event. There are a few things to remember that will help ensure you take away warm memories as well as a Christmas tree:

    • Bring warm clothing, even if the day is nice when you start out. November and December weather can change quickly, so be prepared.

    • Be sure you are on National Forest land when you cut your tree. Because the permit is only valid on Lassen National Forest Land, if you cut a tree on private land, even accidentally, you could be cited. The permit will come with a map that shows the difference between forest and private lands.

    • Also, be sure to read the permit conditions, have the permit with you when the tree is cut, and attach your permit to the tree where it is clearly visible after it is cut and while being transported. Patrols will be out to help answer questions and check permits.

    • Ensure you have the following safety items: water, chains (even four wheel drive vehicles can get stuck), shovel, blanket, and food.

    • Stay on Designated Roads, cross country travel is prohibited under the Temporary Forest Order #06-07-01. Parking is allowed one vehicle length off the road.

    Local news reports say the family had a tree-cutting permit, so maybe these folks aren’t quite the complete mouth-breating idiots that most of you seem to assume.

    Clearly, they should have paid more attention to the part where it says “Bring warm clothing, even if the day is nice when you start out”, but they weren’t stealing the tree or denuding the forest or otherwise being a complete idiots.

    They went out in the woods, and got lost.

    That happens sometimes. It’s a lot easier to get lost in the woods than most city folks imagine.

  13. MapNerd, I appreciate the balance you’re attempting to bring with your objection of the tone of my post and some of the comments it’s produced. I know there’s been mention made of reports stating that the father had obtained a permit from the USFS, but from what I can tell where the father opted to park and cut the tree (the truck was found some 2.5 miles north of Inskip) they were in an area known as the Upper Ridge Wilderness that resides outside Lassen and Plumas national forest boundaries.

    Should it be verified they were in fact on national forest property I would amend my post to reflect that, but should it turn out that they were not, that only compounds my opinion of the parent as ridiculously irresponsible.

    Again, despite my derision I’m ultimately glad tragedy was averted, but the relief is simply tempered by the reality. And I’m well aware that the misfortune that befell him and his children could easily befall any of us cityfolk… or at least those of us who would be as sadly ill-prepared in attempting something similar.

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