US Capitol Christmas Tree

Tokens of U.S. Capitol Christmas

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program is possible in part to generous support of partners and sponsors, and the Payette National Forest and Choose Outdoors are fortunate to have two partners who have created special initiatives to engage with and support the 2016 program.

Weiser Classic Candy makes hand-made delectables in Weiser, Idaho. They’ve developed the limited edition U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree chocolate bar, proceeds from which will help raise money to fly one lucky Idaho student to Washington D.C this Christmas season where he or she will have the honor of flipping the switch during the 2016 lighting ceremony. The contest to select the student will be headed by Senator Crapo’s office and announced in September. Milk or dark chocolate varieties are $3.00 and can be ordered over the phone by calling toll free 877-818-5016.

Celebrated Idaho-based artist Ward Hooper designed the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree logo. Ward, a native of Idaho, lets his artwork convey how Idaho continues to inspire him and following the launch of the logo, Hooper offered to develop poster art for the project. The commemorative poster is available for a donation of $20.00. For information on how to donate and receive the poster art, contact Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors. And for more of Ward’s uniquely Idaho art, visit his website.

Enjoy a small piece of the 2016 Christmas season wherever you may be!

It’s Christmas in July in McCall

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Payette National Forest celebrated Christmas in July during McCall’s Lakeside Liberty Fest and the 4th of July weekend festivities.

On July 2, the Payette National Forest along with the Payette Children’s Forest, Brundage Mountain Resort, and Choose Outdoors hosted a Christmas in July event at Depot Park next to Hotel McCall. There were a wide variety of activities, games, and learning opportunities for the whole family, along with Smokey Bear and the change to learn about the “It’s All Yours” campaign. Additionally, attendees were able to make Christmas ornaments for the tree that will make its way to the U.S. Capitol. Even University of Idaho President of University Chuck Staben dropped by to show his support.

On July 4, the Payette National Forest took part in the Lakeside Liberty Fest arts and craft event at Brown’s Park. Several types of ornaments can be made at this activity including reindeer, caribou, petroglyphs, and state symbols for Idaho.

Payette Smokejumpers Tasked With Finding Capitol Christmas Tree

Monday, May 16, 2016

In the 2.3 million acres that make up the Payette National Forest, there is a single tree with a major holiday destiny to fulfill.

The Christmas tree that adorns the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., this year will come from Idaho. Now that the snow is melting up high, the hunt for the perfect tree is on.

Finding the Capitol Christmas tree is a lot like what most families do each year, just on a much bigger scale.

“It needs to be between 60 and 85 feet tall, so it’s a huge tree,” explains Brian Harris from the Payette National Forest. “It needs to have that shape and color, and all the branches filled in — really the same thing you’d be looking for in that ideal Christmas tree for your house.”

Harris says the Payette has delegated the tree-hunting work to an unlikely crew: the smokejumpers. He thinks it’s the first time the elite wildland firefighters have been enlisted for this kind of work.

Smokejumpers aren’t silviculturalists, but Harris says they know the forest as well as anyone in the Payette.

The tree they’re looking for will likely be a Douglas fir, grand fir or Engelmann spruce. Harris says they considered going with something more geographically unique to Idaho, like a tamarack (also called a western larch), but decided against it.

“In the wintertime tamaracks drop all their needles… like a Charlie Brown tree,” he jokes.

The smokejumpers anticipate choosing a final tree by July. Once the tree is harvested later this fall, it’ll embark on a celebrity road trip of sorts to Washington, D.C., before fulfilling its destiny as a beacon of holiday cheer.

The last time a Capitol Christmas tree came from Idaho was in 2003. The 65-foot Engelmann spruce came from the Boise National Forest, up the Middle Fork of the Payette near the town of Garden Valley.

Boise State Public Radio, Monica Gokey