A Christmas tradition is kicking off Thanksgiving Day in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. As of Thursday, the refuge will open for Christmas tree-cutting.
Candace Ward is a park ranger at the refuge. She says the tree-cutting is a popular holiday tradition.
"The idea is to spread people out so you need to be 150 feet ... from refuge roads, trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas and any water bodies," said Ward.
One other restriction, says Ward, is an off-limits area around the Refuge Headquarters and Ski Hill Road.
Ward says one of the most popular areas for tree-hunting is a six-mile stretch along the south side of Funny River Road, past the Soldotna Airport.
She reiterates that chainsaws are not allowed for tree-cutting in the refuge and trees can only be taken with hand tools. She says a pruning saw with a curved blade is probably the most popular tool to use.
But what makes for a good Christmas tree?
"A lot of people like ones that are rather full so they'll be looking for black spruce in a well-drained area because they tend to be quite dense," she said.
The trees are free for personal use and the limit is one per household. Tree-hunters are asked to trim stumps as close to the ground as possible.
The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s tree-cutting is open through Christmas Day.