US Capitol Christmas Tree

Opinion: Thinking of my home, our state, my Oregon

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

By Paul Barnum - This year’s lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on Thursday holds special significance for Oregonians.

For just the second time in more than 50 years, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an Oregon tree – a noble fir from one of Oregon’s 10 national forests.

Don’t confuse this tree with the National Christmas Tree that bedecks the White House lawn – the executive branch. Oregon’s noble fir, standing dignified on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, is the “People’s Tree,” symbolizing the federal legislators who represent the 325 million people living in these United States.

Oregon is the perfect parent of this year’s People’s Tree, with the state’s legacy of Tom McCall populism and rugged individualism, tempered by an historic willingness of its citizens to work together during tough times.

The 80-foot fir took a remarkable journey, a 3,000-mile Oregon Trail in reverse, under the banner “Find Your Trail.” The U.S. Forest Service, dozens of corporate sponsors and hundreds of volunteers made the trip possible.

Harvested in early November deep in the 1.5 million-acre Willamette National Forest, the tree was hoisted onto a donated flatbed truck and then trucked to 23 different locations along the route for community celebrations. In addition to the single noble, 70 smaller “companion” trees from Oregon commercial tree growers were shipped east to adorn legislative and administrative offices.

The Capitol Tree always comes from one of our country’s 154 national forests. That this year’s companion trees come from Oregon commercial operations highlights the state’s niche as the nation’s No. 1 Christmas tree grower. According to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association, Oregon produced 5.2 million Christmas trees in 2016. North Carolina came next with 3.5 million. Oregon’s dedicated growers and world-class tree-growing climate will ensure that we maintain our top spot.

The gift of a noble fir is an iconic symbol of what former SOLVE Executive Director Jack McGowan often described as “this treasure we call Oregon.” We treasure the state’s abundant green forests for the commodities, water, wildlife and sanctuary they provide. We cherish the clean air provided by Oregon’s forested landscapes, and we take comfort that forest owners and managers are managing for sustainability and the long-term.

In the lead-up to selecting, harvesting and transporting Oregon’s tree to the Capitol, Gov. Kate Brown held a contest asking fourth-grade students to write letters about what they love about Oregon’s outdoors. Brigette Harrington from Hillsboro wrote the winning article, selected from more than 1,200 entries. The win earned Harrington an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to take part in the tree-lighting ceremony.

Brigette’s poem, based on the Christmas tale, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore, best sums up the shared love for our beloved state.

It’s time to cut our Christmas tree, we’ve got to find the right one,

Can’t wait to get it home inside, all decorated and done!

So, as I close my eyes for sleep, my heart holds memories dear,

Thinking of my home, our state, my Oregon, how glad I’m here.

-- Paul Barnum is a fifth-generation Oregonian, the former president of SOLVE and past chair of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. 

Tree Lighting date moved to December 6, 2018

Monday, December 03, 2018

Due to the passing of President Bush, the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting will take place on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. The ceremony will take place at 5:00 p.m. on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The event is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required. It will remain list from dusk every evening through January 1, 2019.  

The lighting ceremony will be broadcast on C-SPAN and live feed available on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Facebook page.

 

Companion trees, skirts and ornaments light up offices throughout D.C.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Now that the large Christmas tree is successfully placed on the Capitol mall, the US Capitol Christmas tree team has been busy delivering the companion trees, tree skirts and ornaments to various offices and buildings in Washington DC. This is Oregon’s time to shine as the dozens of tree skirts and thousands of handmade ornaments will finally be on display! A very special thank you to all of the individuals, groups and organizations who helped reach our companion tree, ornament and tree skirt goals.

       

      

 

 

From Oregon to D.C.: The ‘People’s Tree’ arrives at the U.S. Capitol for Christmas

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

After more than 3,000 miles, the “People’s Tree” from the Willamette National Forest has arrived at the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The tree will be lit during a ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 5:00 p.m. EST. The event is free and open to the public. It also will be broadcast on C-SPAN and a live stream available on the Facebook page. 

 
*EDITED: DUE TO THE PASSING OF PRESIDENT BUSH, THE CEREMONY WILL NOW TAKE PLACE ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6 AT 5:00 P.M. EST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Tree Permits on sale at National Forest Offices

Thursday, November 22, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… time to visit your nearest national forest to find the perfect holiday tree for your home! Christmas tree permits are available at National Forest offices and selected vendors throughout the Pacific Northwest for $5 each. Each permit allows the holder to cut one tree in designated areas; each household can purchase up to a maximum of five permits.

For permit purchasing locations, contact your local national forest office (for a directory of USDA Forest Service offices in Washington and Oregon, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/about-region/?cid=stelprdb5341313).

More information:
News release – English
News release – Español
News release – русский

Don’t forget:
As part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative, all fourth-graders are eligible for a free holiday tree permit from their USDA Forest Service office, for use on their local national forest.


4th-graders: Click the image above to download a coloring page, with instructions to visit www.everykidinapark.gov for information about how to claim your voucher for a free holiday tree permit from the USDA Forest Service, and get a free annual pass to explore federal lands across the U.S. this year with your family!

Visit the Every Kid in a Park website at www.everykidinapark.gov for more information about how fourth-grade students can claim their free tree permit voucher and a one-year annual pass to explore national forests and other public lands across the U.S.

Rolling into Scottsbluff, NE

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Law Enforcement Play Vital Role in Delivering Tree to D.C.

Friday, November 16, 2018

We are profoundly grateful to the many, many law enforcement officers who provide security and traffic control along our journey. These dedicated men and women from agencies in every community we visit tirelessly steward our passage day and night throughout the tour. We thank you! #uscapitolchristmastree #capitolchristmastree#USForestService


Meet the men hauling the US Capitol Christmas Tree from Oregon to Washington DC

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From KGW 8Salem Police motorcycle officers blocked traffic at the intersection of 12th and Court streets NE on Tuesday, clearing the way for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

Rick Williams, behind the wheel of the 106-foot-long truck and trailer carrying the prized noble fir, made the turn with room to spare.

But he couldn't have done it without an assist from his escorts, a scene replaying over and over as the tree is paraded through Oregon before it heads to Washington, D.C.

 

"Once we get off the Interstate and get into towns, there's some tight corners," said Williams, founder and CEO of Central Oregon Trucking Company. "But law enforcement is really making it pleasurable and safe for us driving."

The Redmond-based trucking company was chosen to transport the tree on its 3,000-mile journey from Willamette National Forest to the West Lawn.

Salem was the eighth of 23 stops on the tour, with the truck parking in front of the Oregon State Capitol for 1 hour, 40 minutes. Hundreds of people came to see the tree and sign the 50-foot-long banners on each side of the trailer.

Three primary drivers from Central Oregon Trucking will see time behind the wheel, including Williams. Phil Taylor, vice president of fleet maintenance, and Brad Aimone, director of driver safety services, are the others.

Williams said they are honored to be hauling such precious cargo, calling it "the event of a lifetime."

The plan is to have two of them in the cab at all times because visibility of the rear of the trailer can be difficult from the driver's side. It helps to have eyes on it from the passenger side, too.

As stressful as it can be to drive such a long rig, it's also comfortable. The Kenworth W990 is a state-of-the-art truck the company touts as the "perfect fusion of power, luxury, craftsmanship and traditional styling."

"It's similar to driving motorhomes these days as far as the interior and the quietness," Williams said.

The truck and trailer tipped the scales at 53,800 pounds at a weigh station on the way to the tree's next stop in Oregon City.

 

Williams estimated it will take 900 to 1,000 gallons of fuel to reach their destination. Pilot Flying J is donating the diesel, one of more than 60 local and national partners providing both cash and in-kind donations.

A second truck leaves Thursday carrying 75 smaller companion trees that will decorate government buildings and other public spaces at the U.S. Capitol, and 10,000 ornaments made by Oregonians. It won't be making whistle stops along the way.

 

 

 

Group effort to get Oregon fir tree to West Lawn of U.S. Capitol deserves thanks

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Salem Statesman Journal - This week, Duck and Beaver fans, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, boomers and millennials, and new and longtime Oregon residents alike united downtown to cheer for a silvery noble fir tree.

The now-72-foot long tree, which weighs more than seven tons, made a whistle stop in front of Oregon's Capitol before it begins a 3,000-mile trailer ride to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where it will be lighted for the holidays.

It's not often a crowd on the steps of Oregon's Capitol agree on anything. But during this inordinately chilly moment in time, Oregonians stood together and celebrated the mammoth fir tree cut from the Willamette National Forest.

The gift from Oregon to our nation appears ready for the trek. Plastic panels allow spectators along the way to view the top 24-feet of the tree adorned with ornaments handmade by Oregonians and other gifts from the Beaver State, including a bag of hazelnuts. The tree is cradled to prevent it from slipping and sliding during the journey.

Some background: Oregon narrows search for perfect Christmas tree for U.S. Capitol

Finding the perfect big tree: The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has been found in an Oregon forest, but it's a secret

Chopping it down: Oregon's 82-foot noble fir tree for US Capitol comes down without a hitch

Big tree needs big tree skirt: Here's what it takes to quilt a 14-foot Christmas tree skirt for a U.S. Capitol building

Contest winner: Oregon fourth-grader gets to light U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

It has been wrapped with a 250-gallon vinyl bladder (bag) and sealed with a wax ring to keep it watered during the 17-day trip. Soaker hoses placed over the tree are designed to prevent branches from drying out during the trek. 

Capitol Christmas tree visits Bend on way to D.C.

Monday, November 12, 2018

From The BulletinThe U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was on display in the Old Mill District in Bend on Monday, where crowds showed up to see it and sign a banner on the trailer carrying the tree from where it was harvested in the Willamette National Forest to the nation’s capital. The 70-foot-tall noble fir will be stopping in more than 25 communities as it traverses the 3,000-mile path from Oregon to Washington, D.C., a journey that commemorates the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, according to organizers of the project.

Since 1970, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide the Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol Building. Oregon was previously selected in 2002, when a Douglas fir from the Umpqua National Forest had the honor.

The tree will be displayed on the west lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., with a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December.