US Capitol Christmas Tree

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.

Ornament Drop off

Thursday, August 29, 2019

 

Calling all ornament makers! When your ornaments are complete, consider dropping off at one of two locations:

Drop off Event:
September 23-26 from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
September 27 between 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Southwestern Regional Office
333 Broadway SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Daily
Anytime prior to October between 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Carson National Forest Supervisor’s Office
208 Cruz Alta Rd., Taos, NM 87571

Visit the ornament page for more information on our project needs and suggested themes.

Download ornament drop off information.

 

 

Local Youth Are Helping to Bring Holiday Cheer to our Nation’s Capital

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

 

How do you produce 10,000 handmade Christmas ornaments and transport a 60-foot tree across the United States just in time for the holidays? That’s the question being posed to the folks at the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico this year, and they’ve responded with a resounding, “With a little help from our partners!”

Each year since 1970, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has selected a different national forest to provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or “People’s Tree,” to adorn the West Lawn of the Capitol Building. The chosen national forest is also charged with providing 70 smaller, companion trees and 10,000 hand-crafted ornaments. This year’s tree, a 68-year-old blue spruce, will come from the area around Red River, New Mexico, in the Carson National Forest.

Instrumental to the success of this colossal undertaking is the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC), a service-based, not-for-profit organization that engages local youth in the outdoors and helps them gain critical life skills. As part of an ongoing agreement between the Forest Service and RMYC, a seven-member crew — composed primarily of local teens from Questa and Taos, New Mexico — spent the summer working on a variety of outdoor projects in the Carson National Forest’s Questa Ranger District. Between fencing, trail work and erosion control projects, the crew was busy decorating some of the 200 tree cookies — cross-section tree slices — that had been pre-cut by another RMYC crew earlier in the season.

The last day of their term was spent slapping a fresh coat of red paint on the panels that will form the housing for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree as it makes its long journey from the Enchanted Circle in northern New Mexico, to Washington, D.C. “When you’re offered the opportunity to engage in something that’s going to be seen on a daily basis across the country…it means a little bit more,” said Brandon Washburn, crew leader and four-term RMYC participant.

The wooden panels, weathered and worn from the many cross-country treks that they’ve endured, were in desperate need of some TLC. The crew spent all day helping to dismantle, wash and paint the approximately 30 red panels, under threat of rain from an approaching storm system. As soon as the last panel was painted and all of the supplies were safely put away, as if on cue, the first raindrops started to fall.

At the RMYC graduation ceremony at the Civic Center in Taos, New Mexico, corps members from all over the state shared experiences and offered up valuable insights, the result of working on diverse conservation projects throughout the season. In addition to the great stories and life experiences, they gain valuable professional development skills, such as resume workshops, first aid/CPR certification and personal finance training, according to Benjamin Thomas, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in New Mexico. “RMYC is excited to partner with the Forest [Service] on high-priority projects while working with local youth to provide them with stackable credentials, college credit and an education award that will lead to a healthy career path,” he said.

One thing is for sure, when they see that bright-red trailer headed down the highway on its way to the Capitol, that seven-member RMYC crew will feel a sense of pride that they were able to bring a little bit of warmth and holiday joy to the cold D.C. winter. To learn more about Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, visit: www.rockymountainyouthcorps.org

 

Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC to Haul the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Friday, August 23, 2019

 

The holiday season will be a little brighter this year with the help of Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC, as it takes on the role of transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. An annual gift to the nation, the 2019 tree will make its way to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. This is the second time a tree has been selected from the Carson and third time from New Mexico.

Wilbanks Trucking also will provide crane support as the tree is cut in early November and prepared for the 2,000-mile expedition, which will include a series of 30+ community celebrations and culminate with the official tree lighting in early December.

Wilbanks Trucking was chosen as the hauler for this year’s tree at the recommendation of Great West Casualty Company and based on industry reputation in New Mexico, according to Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors, the non-profit partner that assists USDA Forest Service with coordinating the annual public engagement initiative.

Ronnie Wilbanks started the organization in 1987 with only a few trucks in the backyard in Artesia, NM and has since grown to employing 250 with additional locations in Hobbs, NM and Odessa, TX — weathering the storms of the boom and bust oil and gas industry. Many of Wilbanks’ trucks are custom built to assist in the construction of oil and gas rigs, and employees are experts in hauling oversized, overweight loads, making them the perfect fit to transport the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

“Wilbanks is proud to provide everyday logistics services to transport the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and to represent New Mexico and its diverse resources spanning from the Oil and Gas Industry in the Permian Basin, to its beautiful national forests in Northern New Mexico,” said Shane Phipps, Safety Director, Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC.

Three Wilbanks employees will ensure the precious cargo is safely delivered, having been nominated by peers and selected by company leadership.

Josh Garcia is a second-generation employee whose passion for trucking started from the age of 6, riding along side with his father. Garcia’s father and uncle were the first two employees of Wilbanks Trucking in 1987. Garcia joined the team professionally straight out of high school in 2004. Starting as a swamper, Garcia obtained his CDL in 2006 and has obtained the skills to operate a gin pole truck, tandem, forklift loaders, and cranes. Promoted into management, his knowledge and skills in the rig moving industry have proved vital in overseeing daily field operations. Garcia says, “I feel honored to be selected as part of the transportation of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. I have hauled thousands of oversized loads in the oil and gas industry, so hauling the Capitol’s Christmas tree will be an amazing opportunity and exciting challenge.”

Josh Rice has been a part of the Wilbanks organization for more than 15 years and driving commercial vehicles for 20 years. As a third-generation rig mover, he is passionate about his profession, primarily servicing the oil and gas industry of eastern New Mexico and west Texas. Rice has hauled over 10,000 oversized loads including sub structures and derricks which range in weight from 50,000 to 200,000 pounds. He is NCCCO lattice boom certified to operate crawler cranes as well as forklift certified, and can also operate gin trucks and tandems. Rice says, “I feel a great sense of responsibility to be able to participate in this annual tradition. Christmas is my favorite holiday! This grand tree represents family and tradition to millions of Americans across the United States, as I know it does for me. This adventure will definitely be one of the most unique and memorable hightlights of my career.”

Brum Stephens has hauled everything from cattle and cotton to farm machinery and steel beams. He started in the oilfield in 1996, originally selling drill bits before launching his own business in 2000 providing rental trailers, manlifts and field welders with trucking services and support on rig moves. Stephens ultimately sold to and joined the Wilbanks Trucking team in 2013. About the honor Stephens says, “Less people have hauled a Christmas tree to the Capitol than have won the lottery. This is my lottery win! It will definitely be something I will never forget, and something that my children and grandchildren can look upon and have a sense of pride.”

Kenworth Truck Company returns for a sixth year as a sponsor of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. A specially decaled Kenworth W990 will transport the 55th U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The Kenworth W990 is equipped with a 76-inch mid-roof sleeper and features the PACCAR Powertrain with PACCAR’s MX-13 engine rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque, 12-speed automated transmission, and 40K tandem rear axle. The truck is also specified with the W990 Limited Edition interior, premium GT703 seats and audio system, Kenworth Nav+HD, predictive cruise control, 1800W inverter, 180-degree swivel passenger seat, and Kenworth TruckTech+® remote diagnostics. The W990 will provide a very comfortable work environment for this year’s tour drivers.

“Kenworth is proud to once again play a part in delivering the ‘People’s Tree’ to our nation’s capital,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “The cross-country tour offers the opportunity for people to see this national symbol of celebration, and the Kenworth W990 is the right truck for this important job.”

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout New Mexico and beyond state lines,” said Ricardo Martinez, Deputy District Ranger, Carson National Forest. “We’re grateful for the resources Wilbanks Trucking and Kenworth Truck Company are providing to help make this the best tour to date.”

Additional transportation partners include Spireon, Inc., Truckload Carriers Association, Hale Trailer, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Meritor and LexisNexis VitalChek Network, Inc., in addition to local and national partners including Elvis Duran & Alex Carr, PNM Resources, Husqvarna, Alaska Airlines, Taos County, and Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

For related news, events and tour information, and to track the tree cross-country, visit www.uscapitolchristmastree.com, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

"Christmas in July” themed night at Isotopes Park this Friday

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

From NewMexico.org: The New Mexico Tourism Department announces the Albuquerque Isotopes home game on Friday, July 26, 6:35 pm, will be themed “Christmas in July” to celebrate New Mexico’s contribution of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for 2019.

“We’re very fortunate that New Mexico was selected to supply the Capitol Christmas Tree for 2019 because this provides the opportunity to showcase New Mexico’s forests, outdoor experiences, and state pride on a national level,” said Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer. “We encourage all New Mexico residents to share their state pride by participating in ornament-building workshops and attending one of the many road stop events scheduled throughout New Mexico later in November when the tree begins its journey to Washington D.C.”

Families are encouraged to visit an ornament-building booth in the concourse where they will have the chance to create an ornament that will be displayed on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree when it makes its way to Washington D.C. later this year.

The first 2,400 fans through the gates will also receive a free New Mexico True t-shirt.

The 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was selected from the Carson National Forest near Questa, NM. This will be the third time New Mexico will be supplying the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. New Mexico first supplied the tree in 1991 from the Carson National Forest, and again in 2005 from the Santa Fe National Forest. New Mexico residents who are interested in partaking in events and celebrations regarding the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree or tracking the tree’s eventual journey to Washington D.C. are encouraged to visit www.uscapitolchristmastree.com for more information on how to participate.

Officials go ‘shopping’ for US Capitol Christmas tree in Carson NF

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


QUESTA, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s only June, but U.S. Capitol workers are going Christmas tree shopping in northern New Mexico. This year, it’s New Mexico’s turn to supply a giant tree for Capitol Hill.

“I need to know my distance to the tree,” said a U.S. Forest Service worker. USFS workers are hard at work in the Carson National Forrest near Questa, trying to figure out how big this tree is.

“This tree is 49 feet tall,” said the USFS worker. Sadly, this tree is coming up short—almost 21 feet short of what they’re looking for.

“We’re selecting the 2019 US Capitol Christmas tree,” said Jim Kaufmann, Director of Capitol Grounds and Arboretum.

This year, the USFS picked New Mexico to find a Christmas tree grand enough for the west lawn at the U.S. Capitol. But in this forest, they’re having a tough time finding the perfect tree.

“I was really hoping the Forest Service was going to make my job easy, but they did not do that,” said Kaufmann. “They’ve made my job pretty difficult. They’ve showed me quite a number of really good candidates.”

Capitol workers said they’re looking for a tree that stands out, and well, stands up straight, too. “It has to be straight because behind the Christmas tree will be at the Washington Monument,” said Kaufmann.

The tree not only has to look good, but it also has to hold up thousands of handmade ornaments from New Mexicans showcasing all things New Mexico—like chile, hot air balloons, even Smokey Bear.

“When we take that tree to D.C. and it gets stood up on the west lawn of the Capitol…that it’s clear that the collage of the ornaments on there, that it’s representing New Mexico well,” said USFS Deputy District Ranger Ricardo Martinez.

Although they haven’t picked out a tree yet, they’re not ruling out any type of tree. Well, except for one.

“Charlie Brown Christmas trees make good trees too,” said Kaufmann. “But unfortunately, we will not be getting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”

Workers said they hope to find that Capitol tree by the end of the week. They will cut it down in November and then haul it off to D.C.

For more information about submitting New Mexico-themed ornaments to the USFS for the Capitol tree, click here.

Virtual Field Trip to Highlight Smokey Bear Campaign

Friday, May 03, 2019

CAPITAN, N.M. (AP) — Public broadcasting stations that serve New Mexico and parts of West Texas are teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service to create a virtual field trip that will highlight Smokey Bear, the cub that became the face of wildfire prevention.

Officials say the virtual field trip will consist of a live webcast from Capitan, New Mexico — the birthplace of Smokey Bear.

The webcast will take place Nov. 7 from the area where Smokey Bear was found as an injured cub and later returned to be buried.

As part of the interactive program, students and others can send in questions about Smokey Bear, the evolution of firefighting and other fire topics. Teachers will be able to download lesson plans and other information for their students ahead of the webcast.

New Mexico Senate introduces Memorial to Recognize 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

In the first session of 2019, Senator Carlos R. Cisneros (District 6, New Mexico) introduced Senate Memorial 127 to recognize the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be coming from New Mexico and encouraging leadership and residents throughout the state to get involved in festivities throughout the year.   Read the full Memorial here.

Excerpts include:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the importance of the Carson National Forest being chosen to provide the 2019 United States Capitol Christmas tree be recognized; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that legislators and residents of counties, tribal governments, municipalities and schools are encouraged to participate in ornament making; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that New Mexico legislators are urged to attend the festivities related to the tree lighting of the United States capitol Christmas tree on the White House west lawn; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the governor, the executive director of New Mexico counties, the secretary of public education, New Mexico's twenty-three Indian nations, tribes and pueblos, the chief of the United States Forest Service and the forest supervisor of the Carson National Forest.

Special thanks to Senator Cisneros and staff for their support!

 


 

 

Oregon Tourism Communications Program or Initiative Award Went to U.S. Forest Service, Willamette Valley National Forest, Choose Outdoors and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Oregon Tourism Communications Program or Initiative Award, presented at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Eugene, commends an effective communications program or initiative that influences the positive reputation of an organization and inspires travelers as they choose destinations. This award celebrates the best domestic or international communications program or initiative that resulted in quality earned media coverage and inspired travel to Oregon.

The U.S. Forest Service, Willamette Valley National Forest, Choose Outdoors and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association were recognized for their work on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Campaign. The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree team, comprised of staff from the Willamette National Forest, Choose Outdoors, Travel Oregon, Weinstein PR, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, and many sponsors, collaborated to execute an incredibly successful nationwide campaign. The efforts of the team highlighted the value of experiencing and caring for public lands through the #ItsAllYours and the #FindYourTrail campaigns. In addition, visitors and locals were encouraged to get outdoors during the “Find Your Ornament” contest. The success of this project, including incredible media coverage totaling 284 stories reaching an audience of more than 438 million, was a direct result of bringing talented and creative team members in to achieve more together.

 


 

Carson National Forest to Provide the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

 

En español.

 

This year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be coming from New Mexico. The tree will be displayed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., with a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December.

The 2019 tree will be cut from the Questa Ranger District on the Carson National Forest. Seventy smaller companion trees will also be sent to our nation’s capital to decorate government buildings and public spaces.

Ricardo Martinez, Deputy District Ranger for the Questa Ranger District and project coordinator noted that 2019 will spotlight New Mexico through the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. “We will seek opportunities to share stewardship of this project by engaging with the state, tribal and local communities, as well as partners from the private and public sectors”, he said.

Communities throughout New Mexico will be encouraged to share the experience of selecting, caring for, decorating and transporting this gift to the nation. New Mexicans will contribute 10,000 handmade ornaments to be created throughout 2019 capturing the unique culture and beauty of northern New Mexico.

“Throughout the year you’ll have opportunities to make your mark on this gift from New Mexico to the nation - creating and decorating ornaments and discovering inspiring trees in the Carson National Forest,” said Martinez. “Perhaps you’ll even discover THE tree that is selected for the important journey to Washington, D.C. where it will delight visitors from around the world.”

“I am so proud and excited that New Mexico has been chosen as the origin of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico’s public lands are treasured all across the state, and it is an incredible honor for all New Mexicans to have our beautiful landscapes represented to the nation with a tree from the Carson National Forest. I hope this wonderful event inspires all New Mexicans to continue to celebrate and value our public lands and our proud history of stewardship.”

The Forest has partnered with non-profit Choose Outdoors to help implement the year-long public engagement campaign. The project is made possible thanks to large and small companies and volunteers locally and across America who provide invaluable support of time and resources in bringing the campaign to life from New Mexico to Washington, D.C. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors. 

New Mexicans and visitors are invited to participate in activities throughout 2019. The first event will take place on Feb. 22, 2019, in Taos, at the Taos Youth and Family Center from 12-3 p.m. where you can celebrate with Forest employees, hear more about the project, and help decorate ornaments for the tree.

Every year since 1970, USDA Forest Service has provided the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as the People’s Tree. This is the fourth U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to come from the Southwestern Region of USDA Forest Service. Two were from New Mexico - an Engelmann Spruce from the Santa Fe NF in 2005 and a Blue Spruce from Carson NF in 1991. In 2009 an Engelmann Spruce came from the Apache-Sitgreaves NFs in Arizona.

To get involved, email us here