CALGARY -- The Alberta government is making it a little easier for residents to enjoy a traditional Christmas by eliminating the fee required to cut down Christmas trees on Crown land.

Originally, it cost Albertans five dollars for a permit to cut down up to three trees and harvest a certain amount of firewood from the province's 87 million acres of forest.

Now, obtaining the documentation is completely free of charge.

Officials say the move will save Albertans almost $100,000.

"I hope Albertans take the time to go out with their families to find the perfect Christmas tree this year," said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen in a statement.

"Alberta has so much to offer and we’re blessed to live in the most free and open place in the world."

The Personal Use Forest Products permit is valid for 30 days and must be held by at least one member of a family who sets out onto one of the province's 10 designated forest areas.

Depending on the options selected by the permit holder, the document allows the harvesting of:

  • Three Christmas trees (under 2.5 metres in height)
  • Five cubic metres of firewood (approximately three level truckloads)
  • Five cubic metres of roundwood (for fence posts and rails)
  • 20 tree transplants

While the permits are free to obtain, the province says it's important to remember it is still required by law to secure a permit before any harvesting can take place.

It is also limited to personal use only, so all timber collected with the permit should not be sold to others.

Anyone caught harvesting trees without a permit or selling Crown timber is considered to be breaking the law.

Penalties range from $50 to several thousand, depending on the amount of timber harvested.