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Need a tree? Need to Ski?

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While retailers have been jamming Christmas down our throats since, well, July, now that we've hit late November, it's OK to get serious about it. Along those lines, the Boise and Payette national forests are selling Christmas-tree permits.

The $10 permits allow the holder to cut one tree (no taller than 12 feet) with a limit of three permits per family.

But before you go rushing out to cut down ye old tannenbaum, know the area you're heading to--pay attention to area closures on public land and stay off private land. Handy maps and tips are available wherever tree permits are sold.

It's also a good idea to call ahead to check on road conditions--forest roads are not plowed. Permits are valid through Saturday, Dec. 24.

Permits are available at ranger district offices on both forests, as well as numerous private vendors. For a full list and locations, visit fs.usda.gov/boise.

If you need some ideas of what to stick under your newly cut tree for the outdoor recreationist/athlete in your life, check out the Boise Weekly Holiday Gift Guide inserted in this edition of Boise Weekly and available at boiseweekly.com.

If all this talk of winter holidays has you thinking skiing, you're in luck. Several regional ski areas have slated Thanksgiving holiday weekend openings, including Sun Valley, which is still offering some impressive early season deals--check out the pre-holiday package, which will score you a lift ticket and a room at the Sun Valley Resort for $79 per person, double occupancy. Get the details at sunvalley.com.

If you're willing to travel a little farther, Grand Targhee Resort (grandtarghee.com) will open on Friday, Nov. 25, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Jackson, Wyo., will open on Saturday, Nov. 26. Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint already opened on Nov. 19 and Alta Resort in Utah opened Nov. 18.

Local resorts, including Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area and Brundage Mountain have yet to set opening dates, but with the amount of snow building up in the central Idaho mountains, expect to see Brundage open sooner than later.

If you want to track the openings and conditions as they happen, check out skiidaho.us, where you can sign up for Twitter and Facebook alerts to keep you on top of the ski season and special deals.

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