US Capitol Christmas Tree

An inside look at the New Mexican products traveling with the US Capitol Christmas tree

Monday, November 25, 2019

As seen on KOB 4

A 60 foot blue spruce from New Mexico has spent the last two weeks traveling across the country. The journey has taken the tree to the U.S. Capitol to be this year's Christmas tree.

The tree wasn't the only thing headed to the U.S. Capitol, though. Those who got to see the tree also were able to get their hands on some classic New Mexican products.

To learn more, watch the interview with Debi and Pat Bartucci of Statewide Products.


Why I love New Mexico’s forests and public lands

Saturday, November 23, 2019

 

Written by Asher Dean, Winner of the 4th Grade Essay Contest. Asher will travel to Washington D.C. to help light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on Dec. 4. 

I heard a story once about “horny toads” from my mother. How she used to catch so many they filled a shoebox. And my grandfather told me about the Lobo’s howl. Both of these animals are rare or endangered now and I have not found one myself. I hope one day to tell my own children about the animals I experience in the forests of New Mexico. Tadpoles, horned owls, fence-tail lizards, trout, coyotes and bats. We hike through the forest into the Rio Grande gorge and I know it is magic. The beauty of it all is more than enchanting, it takes my breath away, or brings me back to it in a way. I feel like Brian from my book, Hatchet, when I spend time in the wilderness and I return to a place of quietness and respect for nature.

Sometimes when I go fishing I catch rainbow trout in the glimmering Red River. I see Rio Grande Chirping Frogs hoping along the riverbank. When I hike in the Taos Ski Valley I see marmots by Williams Lake, 11,000 feet into the deep blue sky. I am stunned when I explore Fossil Hill and discover the fossils of the sea creatures that used to live in New Mexico. It is amazing how a million years ago the New Mexico forests used to be seaweed under the ocean. I see Red Tailed Hawks near the Carson National Forest swooping down to catch little creatures to bring home for their babies. I see Stink Beetles burying their head in the trail near my home in Llano Quemado. I watch lizards climb the trees and scurry off into the wilderness. In Bandalier, I explore the cave the Native Americans used to live in. I can see where the fire burnt the top of the cave and there is a kiva hole to stick my head out of. Going down the 10-foot ladder it scares me and I respect the rich culture that came before me, their fearlessness.

We must keep this beautiful forest natural and unharmed because the animals deserve a home, deserve not to be hurt. The people of this Land of Enchantment deserve the clean air the aspen, ponderosa pine and pinon trees help make. My friends deserve the chance to swim in clear rivers and discover the secrets of our wilderness. When I lie in my bed and dream about my future, I see myself as an entomologist. I want to discover all the insects, arthropods and arachnids in New Mexico. If we protect our open spaces and wild areas then these creatures will still be there for discovery, for hope and for awesomeness.

 

Enchantment is in the Air

Monday, November 11, 2019

 

By Ricardo Martinez, Deputy District Ranger, Carson National Forest - A team of USDA Forest Service employees in New Mexico embarked on the first day of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour.  With a nod to the project’s theme of “Delivering Enchantment”, the day included a tour of the Enchanted Circle, with stops at the Village of Questa, Eagle Nest, near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, and concluded with a community celebration in Taos.

The team got an early start at the facility where the tree was packaged for transport, courtesy of MTC, Inc., north of Questa. Before hitting the road, the New Mexico themed Kenworth W990 underwent a thorough inspection by New Mexico State Police.

In observance of Veteran’s Day, the team and their host communities made honoring Veterans a through line of the day. In Questa, after a viewing of the tree at Alta Vista Elementary, the community gathered to offer a “Veterans’ Salute” to the tree as it left town, before commencing a follow-on ceremony in honor of the village’s veterans. At Eagle Nest, the high school band from nearby Cimarron played a set of patriotic numbers, including the fight songs from each of the armed services, as community members enjoyed the lunch and Christmas cookie reception sponsored by the town.

While size limitations prevented the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from driving directly to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, the staff at the memorial directed the convoy to a nearby roadside pullout with an incredible view of the memorial.From there, visitors signed the banners and engaged with the project team, memorial staff and visiting dignitaries including New Mexico’s Lieutenant Governor Morales and staff from the office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall.

The day concluded in Taos with the largest event of the day, as several hundred community members filled Civic Plaza Drive. Attendees observed a ceremonial posting of the colors by a VFW provided color guard and participated in the pledge of allegiance, led by Taos Mayor, Dan Barrone. The event included remarks by County Manager, Brent Jaramillo, who joined the County Commission in presenting Challenge Coins to the leaders of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree project on the Carson National Forest. Forest Service employees Ricardo Martinez and Jack Lewis shared gratitude for the support of the People’s Tree before Mariachi El Tigre of Taos High School stole the show, regaling onlookers with a flourish of sound and energy befitting the event’s fanfare.

The team looks forward to day 2 of 14 with stops at Taos Pueblo, Chama, and Dulce.

 

Tree Cutting and Celebration Kicks Off Nationwide Tour for the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Thursday, November 07, 2019

People from all over the Land of Enchantment witnessed the harvesting of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from the Carson National Forest. The event, which was several months in the making, kicked off shortly after sunrise on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.

Before the 60-foot blue spruce was harvested, an audience listened to remarks from several dignitaries, including Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Governor of New Mexico. She tells us about the pride she and other New Mexicans share about the public lands found in New Mexico. "New Mexico is incredibly proud of our beautiful forests and great outdoors," said the Governor. "It's such a privilege to share a small piece of our public lands with the nation’s capitol for this year's celebration."

Once the tree was cut from the ground, it was hoisted into the air by cranes provided by Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC. The tree was then placed and secured onto a Kenworth W900 transport trailer provided by Hale Trailer and removed from the Carson National Forest to embark on a nationwide tour. The tour kicks off on Nov. 11 and will visit 30 communities before arriving in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 25, 2019.

 

This is not the first time the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested from a national forest in the Southwestern Region of the USDA Forest Service. In 2009, a blue spruce tree was harvested from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona. An Engelmann spruce tree was harvested from the Santa Fe National Forest in 2005. The first U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree harvested from the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service was a blue spruce from the Carson National Forest in 1991.

Cal Joyner, Regional Forester of the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service, calls it an honor to provide the capitol with a Christmas tree once again. "Service is in our name, it’s one of our core values, it's an honor to serve all of you every day," Joyner said to onlookers at Wednesday’s harvest. "The Forest Service is excited to celebrate the diversity of New Mexico." Video of the 2019 Capitol Christmas Tree harvest is available on the Carson National Forest's Facebook page.

 

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree cutting and celebrations are made possible with donations of time and resources from companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America. Sponsors include Kenworth Truck Company, Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC, Spireon, Inc., Elvis Duran & Alex Carr, Hale Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Great West Casualty Company, Meritor, Public Service Company of New Mexico, TravelCenters of America, Truckload Carriers Association, Husqvarna, Town of Red River, The Joy Trip Project, Alaska Airlines, Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Taos County, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, National Forest Foundation, Red River Brewing Company, Christmas Tree Promotion Board, National Press Club, LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc., Bass Pro Shops, Red River Ski & Summer Area, Lifts West and MTC, Inc

To follow the tree during the journey to Washington, D.C., visit www.capitoltreetracker.com.

Gov. Lujan Grisham announces winner of 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest

Monday, November 04, 2019

Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Carson National Forest on Monday announced Asher Dean, a fourth grader from Arroyos del Norte Elementary in Arroyo Seco, as the winner of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Essay Contest. 

Hundreds of essays were submitted to the contest, for which fourth graders from around New Mexico were invited to write about why they love New Mexico’s forests and public lands in line with the theme of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, “Delivering Enchantment!” With his winning entry, Mr. Dean has won a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and join Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Speaker of the House in lighting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.  

“New Mexico is proud to be providing this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I was so encouraged by the many wonderful essay submissions we received about the importance of New Mexico’s public lands and forests. Asher’s essay spoke so eloquently about the beauty he sees in New Mexico public lands, and I am thrilled that he’ll be joining me in our nation’s capital to see a beautiful tree from Northern New Mexico on display for so many to enjoy.”

Every year, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service selects one lucky national forest to provide the best possible Christmas tree to place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or the “People’s Tree,” began in 1964, and in 2019 New Mexico will be providing the tree for the third time.

This year’s tree, coming from the Red River area in the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, will be felled in a cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The contest was organized in coordination with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and supported by the non-profit organization, Choose Outdoors. 

 

Kenworth W990 Features Special Design for 55th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A special Kenworth W990, sporting a dynamic graphics wrap, will transport the 55th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from the Nov. 6 tree-cutting ceremony in Carson National Forest in New Mexico to the tree-lighting ceremony in early December on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

“When we were contacted to see if we would be interested in transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, we were honored to even be considered,” said Shane Phipps, safety director for Wilbanks Trucking Services. “It didn’t take us long to say ‘yes.’ Everyone here is very excited about taking part in moving this special tree. While we’re a company that specializes in heavy haul, we’re also very experienced in moving oversized loads – and the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is just that. Moving the tree will be unique for us, but we’re more than capable. We’ll even be using our own multiple cranes to lift the tree onto the back of the trailer.”

Wilbanks employees Josh Garcia, Brum Stephens, and Josh Rice were nominated by their peers and selected by company leadership to drive the special Kenworth W990. “They’re excited not only for the tour, but for being able to drive the newest Kenworth,” he said. “We run close to 100 trucks in our operation, including several Kenworths, but the W990 is new, so our guys can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”

For the sixth consecutive year, a Kenworth truck will deliver “The People’s Tree.”

“Over the years, we’ve heard how special this trip is for the trucking company making the delivery, and how meaningful the tour is for adults and kids alike when the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree makes its way through all the towns to Washington, D.C.,” said Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “The annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an important American tradition. The tour brings American pride to all those involved, and to all those who see the special tree traveling across America. We’re especially excited that the Kenworth W990 will again transport the tree.”

The W990, which is equipped with a 76-inch mid-roof sleeper, also features the PACCAR Powertrain with the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles. The truck is also specified with the W990 Limited Edition interior, premium Kenworth GT703 seats and audio system, Kenworth Nav+HD, predictive cruise control, 1800W inverter, 180-degree swivel passenger seat, and Kenworth TruckTech+® Remote Diagnostics.

 

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to be Harvested from Carson National Forest Nov. 6, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

After nearly a year of planning, the time has come to harvest the 2019 United States Capitol Christmas Tree — a 60-foot blue spruce — from the Carson National Forest. USDA Forest Service is hosting two public events Wednesday, Nov. 6, in partnership with the Town of Red River and project sponsors, so New Mexicans can both witness and celebrate this important moment in the yearlong campaign.

Cutting Ceremony (Carson National Forest, meet at Red River Conference Center)
The cutting ceremony will take place at 9:00 a.m. within the Carson National Forest and include brief remarks by representatives from the Forest Service, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Choose Outdoors, New Mexico Tourism, local elected officials, and project partners. 

On Nov. 6, shuttles will bring attendees to and from the cutting, as parking is not available at the site. Those wishing to attend the cutting will meet at the Red River Conference Center and shuttles will run continuously starting at 7:30 a.m, with the cutting ceremony beginning at 9:00 a.m. Refreshments and bathroom facilities will be available. Once the tree is cut, it will be lifted by cranes provided by Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC, and secured to a trailer provided by Hale Trailer before being transported out of the forest by a Kenworth W990. Attendees may remain and watch as the tree is loaded onto the trailer up until 11:30 a.m., when the last shuttle will depart to return to the Red River Conference Center. Attendees are advised that the event is outside and to dress appropriately for inclement weather, including rain or snow.

A live stream of the cutting will be available online on Facebook via CarsonNF and USCapitolChristmasTree will be shown at the Red River Conference Center and the Red River Brewery.

Community Celebration (Red River Conference Center, 101 River St, Red River, NM) 
The community celebration at the Red River Conference Center will take place from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. The tree will be on display for the first hour, along with celebrations for Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary and a Christmas cookie party. Children should bring their Christmas wish lists, as Santa Claus will be in attendance.

Both events are free and open to the public, and registration is not required. We hope you can join us in person or online! 

Announcing the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

(En Espagnol) The Carson National Forest, in partnership with the New Mexico Tourism Department and nonprofit organization Choose Outdoors, will bring the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from New Mexico to Washington, D.C. by way of a cross-country tour involving more than 25 communities along the way. Well-wishers will have a chance to sign banners on the sides of the truck, learn more about the Carson National Forest and the great state of New Mexico, purchase U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree merchandise and more.

Beginning Nov.11, the tree’s journey can be tracked in real time online at capitoltreetracker.com hosted in partnership with sponsor Spireon, Inc. Check out the schedule and visit the tree in a community near you!

Monday, Nov. 11
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Carson National Forest Eagle Rock Lake (State Route 38, Questa, NM) 
11: 30 a.m. – 12: 30 p.m. Eagle Nest Town Hall (151 North Willow Creek Drive, Eagle Nest, NM) 
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Veteran’s Memorial (34 Country Club Road, Angel Fire, NM) 
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Taos City Hall (120 Civic Plaza Dr., Taos, NM)

Tuesday, Nov. 12
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Taos Pueblo (120 Veterans Highway, Taos, NM)
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Española Valley Chamber of Commerce (101 Calle de las Españolas #F, Española, NM)
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Chama Town Hall (2994 4th Street, Chama, NM)
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Jicarilla Apache Supermarket Parking Lot (13603 US-64, Dulce, NM)

Wednesday, Nov 13
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Shiprock High School (US-64, Shiprock, NM)
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Bloomfield Elementary School (200 W Sycamore Ave, Bloomfield, NM)
1:30 – 2:15 p.m. St. Francis Assisi Park (State Highway 126, Cuba, NM)
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Santa Fe Plaza (105 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM)

Thursday, Nov. 14
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Forest Service Albuquerque Service Center (4000 Masthead St NE, Albuquerque, NM)
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Civic Plaza (401 2nd St NW, Albuquerque, NM)
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Gila National Forest, Black Range Ranger District (1804 North Date, Truth or Consequences, NM)

Friday, Nov. 15
8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Smokey Bear Historical Park (118 West Smokey Bear Blvd, Capitan, NM 88316)
10:00. – 11:00 a.m. Mescalero Community Center & Tribal Offices (101 Central Mescalero Ave, Mescalero, NM)
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Otero County Fair Grounds (401 Fairgrounds Rd Alamogordo, NM)
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. El Paso Convention Center (1 Civic Center Plaza, El Paso, TX)

Saturday, Nov. 16: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. The Alamo (300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX)

Sunday, Nov 17
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blue Skies Air Force Village (5100 John D Ryan Blvd, San Antonio, TX)
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Downtown Plaza (710 S Main St Plaza, Georgetown, TX)

Monday, Nov. 18
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Downtown Main Street (113 S 1st St, Lufkin, TX)
5:00 – 7:00 pm. Monroe Civic Center (401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expwy, Monroe, LA)

Wednesday, Nov. 20
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Brent Elementary School (160 4th St, Brent, AL)
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Bass Pro Shops (5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Lawrenceville, GA)

Thursday, Nov. 21
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Federal Building Public Park (900 Georgia Avenue Chattanooga, TN)
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Titans Football Stadium (1 Titans Way, Nashville, TN), in partnership with Truckload Carriers Association

Friday, Nov. 22: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Chilhowee Park (3301 E Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN)

Saturday, Nov. 23: 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. White's Travel Center (2440 Raphine Road, I-81/I-64 at Exit 205, Raphine, VA), in partnership with TravelCenters of America

Sunday, Nov. 24: Delivery to Joint Base Andrews (1345 Arkansas Rd, Joint Base Andrews, MD)

*Subject to change. Monitor website for the latest updates.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is made possible with cash and in-kind contributions from companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America, who provide vital support of time and resources. Sponsors include Kenworth Truck Company, Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC, Spireon, Inc., Elvis Duran & Alex Carr, Hale Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Alaska Airlines, Meritor, Public Service Company of New Mexico, TravelCenters of America, Truckload Carriers Association, Great West Casualty Company, Taos County, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, National Forest Foundation, Christmas Tree Promotion Board, National Press Club and LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc.


 

Who Gets to Decorate the “People’s Tree”?

Friday, September 20, 2019

 

Providing 10,000 handcrafted Christmas ornaments to adorn the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and 70 companion trees is no small feat, but with the help of the community, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is well on its way to achieving that goal! Every year, the Forest Service selects a different national forest to provide the iconic tree and all the trimmings. This year, it will hail from the Questa Ranger District of northern New Mexico’s Carson National Forest, and communities from all over the state are coming together to help deliver a piece of the enchantment of New Mexico, to the rest of the country. The Village of Questa, New Mexico, and their local farmers market are great examples of the overwhelming community involvement that makes the tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree possible.

Nestled among the majestic conifers of the Enchanted Circle sits the small mining community of Questa, New Mexico. Officially founded in 1842, the Village of Questa is in many ways the quintessential northern New Mexican town, while also representing a broader, small-town American, post-industrial march into modernity. The Questa Farmers Market is an expression of that social and economic transition — and a tasty one at that!

With the creation of the market, this tight-knit community along the Red River decided to go back to their farming and ranching roots. From Costilla to Taos, community members come together every Sunday during the summer, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., to sell their fresh confections, produce, meat, flowers, and arts and crafts. Local musician Chris Arellano, a native of Costilla, frequently plays at the market, providing a uniquely New Mexican ambiance with a splash of Nashville thrown in for good measure.

Amid the smell of freshly baked horno-bread, the jubilation of local residents dancing the marcha — a line dance traditionally danced at weddings and celebrations — and the unique rhythms of New Mexican Spanish music, market-goers stop by the Forest Service table to put their personal flair on Christmas ornaments headed to Washington, D.C. Ornament makers punch designs into tin plates and color tree cookies, creating folk-art ornaments that are distinctly New Mexican.

The roots of agriculture in the area run deep, going back before the incorporation of the town. Originally known as San Antonio del Rio Colorado (St. Anthony of Red River), the settlement was later dubbed Questa — an anglicization of the Spanish word cuesta, meaning slope or hill — referring to the hill on which the town is situated. By the time the village was officially founded in 1842, Mexican settlers had been farming the Red River valley for many years; and Native American tribes like the Jicarilla Apache, Kiowa, Ute and Navajo had hunted on the land for generations. It seems fitting that this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree should come from such a place, where agriculture has been an integral part of the local culture for so long.

Commercial mining shaped contemporary life in Questa as well. Molybdenum, a mineral used in the steel production, was mined in the area beginning in 1922. This supported the local economy and provided well-paying jobs for many in Questa and the surrounding communities. When the Chevron Corp. closed the mine in 2014, the resulting economic vacuum put the community’s resolve and resourcefulness to the test.

As the nation’s energy priorities shift and the demands on our natural resources change, small towns across the country are looking for ways to sustain themselves economically. For Questa, this means shifting their focus from mining to tourism and renewable energy. In this vein, Chevron already converted a substantial portion of the tailings facility from the now-defunct molybdenum mine into solar panels, and public meetings are being held for a possible solar farm in Cerro, New Mexico.

On the tourism front, Questa District Ranger Jack Lewis says he is committed to working with the community to help bolster tourism to the forest and surrounding areas. This includes plans to develop multiple trails for hiking, horseback riding and off-highway vehicle use, connecting the Village of Questa with the Town of Red River and its associated tourism.

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and the Questa Farmers Market are just a couple of examples of the exciting new things that are happening around the Enchanted Circle. Learn more about the Questa Farmers Market, trails and things to do in Questa, New Mexico, and U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree updates and events

   

 

Gov. Lujan Grisham, Carson National Forest announce 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree essay contest

Friday, September 13, 2019

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Carson National Forest on Friday announced an essay-writing contest for New Mexico fourth graders as part of the celebration of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which will come from the Land of Enchantment. The contest winner will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to join the Speaker of the House of Representatives in lighting the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Fourth graders from around the state are invited to participate in the contest, writing about why they love New Mexico’s forests and public lands in line with the theme of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, “Delivering Enchantment!”

Every year, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service selects one lucky national forest to provide the best possible Christmas tree to place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. The tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or the “People’s Tree,” began in 1964, and in 2019 New Mexico will be providing the tree for the third time. This year, the tree will be coming from the Red River area in the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest.

Ten thousand ornaments have been made by New Mexicans around the state to decorate the tree in Washington, D.C.

The “Every Kid in a Park” initiative invites all U.S. fourth graders and their families to experience our country’s natural treasures, rich history and vibrant culture. In that vein, the USDA Forest Service and Gov. Lujan Grisham invite fourth-grade students across New Mexico to tell us what you think makes our forests and public lands special. Gov. Lujan Grisham will select one winning student essay, whose author will be flown to Washington, D.C., along with a guardian, to attend festivities and light the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree during the first week of December.

The essay prompt was distributed to all New Mexico elementary schools and may also be found here. Submissions are due by October 4, 2019.