Visitors can take home Christmas tree from Prince Albert National Park

For the second year, the park is having it’s Christmas tree harvest, offering visitors a chance to cut down a Christmas tree from within the community fuel break right up until Christmas Eve.

It's all to maintain the community fuel break near Waskesiu

Maintenance work being done in an area of the Waskesiu Community Fuel Break to make sure it continues to be an effective tool in reducing the risk of wildfire. If the trees don't get picked for Christmas, they have to be cut down anyway. (Submitted by Shannon Bond)

It's not often visitors are invited to cut down trees in a national park, but that's exactly what the Prince Albert National Park has on offer.

For the second year, the park is having its Christmas tree harvest, offering visitors a chance to cut down a Christmas tree from within the community fuel break right up until Christmas Eve.

It's all part of an effort to maintain the fuel break near Waskesiu that was created back in 2002.

"When we speak of fuel, we talk about trees and vegetation. It's an area where we've removed the coniferous trees — the trees that have needles — because those are the ones that kind of burn the hottest and fastest if you were to be in a wildfire situation," said Shannon Bond, a fire information officer with the park.

"We leave leafy trees like aspen, birch and grass. So you get this sort of green belt around the community that would help slow down a wildfire, and bring it from the treetops to the ground, where it would be more manageable for fire crews," added Bond.

Randall Irving (left) and Carman Hancheroff (right) work to maintain the community fuel break. They are both initial attack wildfire crew leaders in Prince Albert National Park. (Submitted by Shannon Bond)

Fire crews come and remove the trees during the winter months to maintain the fuel break, but they've decided to also offer people the opportunity to take the trees as Christmas trees for free.

Bronwyn Craig, a promotions officer for Prince Albert National Park, said that last year, 94 visitors got their Christmas tree during the harvest. This year, they're hoping for more. She said it's a great opportunity for a family getaway before the holidays.

Craig advises visitors who want to take a Christmas tree to check-in with the visitors centre in Waskesiu upon arrival to pick up a free tree permit. Then, you can start the search for a Christmas tree that fits your family.

With files from CBC Radio One's Saskatchewan Weekend