By Meg Olson
Choices for getting your tree this Christmas just got more limited.
In a December 3 press release Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced tighter rules for bringing a Christmas tree across the border.
“Christmas trees add sparkle to the holiday season but they can be infected with hidden pests capable of damaging our natural resources and domestic economy,” said Charles Cunningham, chief CBP Agricultural specialist in Blaine, Washington.
Importing a Christmas tree from B.C. to Washington now requires certification from the grower that it was grown in an area where gypsy moth and pine shoot beetle are not known to occur. Cunningham suggested anyone wanting a tree from B.C. call an agriculture specialist in Blaine at 360/332-1640 to make sure they are meeting requirements prior to import.
While on Wednesday there were signs up at the Point Roberts port of entry saying “no” to Christmas trees, agriculture specialists in Blaine said these pests are not known to occur in B.C. and certification should not be difficult to obtain. They recommend a statement from the grower/retailer the tree has only been in B.C. and a tag on the tree with its origin and destination. They add the rules also apply to wreaths.
Bringing a tree around from mainland Whatcom County isn’t a feasible option, according to Canada Customs and Border Services representative Kathy Liu. “The short answer is no, it is not allowed to bring fresh Christmas trees across,” she said.