US Capitol Christmas Tree

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! 

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.

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

 

"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.

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.