Every year since 1970, a different National Forest has been selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas
season. The Kootenai National Forest was selected to provide this special gift from Montana to Washington, D.C. for the 2017 season. This is the second
U.S. Capitol Christmas tree to come from the Kootenai National Forest. The Kootenai provided the Capitol Christmas tree in 1989.
In July, Superintendent of the Capitol Grounds Ted Bechtol and his staff visited the forest and inspected a half a dozen or so candidate trees. After careful consideration, he made his selection. It is a 79 ft. tall Engelmann Spruce that is located at the Upper Ford administrative site on the Three Rivers Ranger District in Troy, Montana.
With the selection and location of the tree known, Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer’s will provide 24-hour security of the tree until it is harvested.
There are a few activities and events being planned for the 2017 Capitol Christmas tree celebration. Tuesday, November 7 will be open for the public to come view the tree and take pictures. Refreshments will be provided. Wednesday, November 8 will be a closed event where the tree will be cut, as space and safety concerns are paramount. Drone footage of the tree cutting will be uploaded to Facebook and provided to the media.
The tree will be escorted from the Yaak through the cities of Troy and Libby so the people can see the tree which will adorn the U.S. Capitol grounds this holiday season. The tree will then be stored in Libby and prepped for the almost 3,000-mile trip, which includes a series of community celebrations and culminates with the official tree lighting in early December.
“This is an honor for the Kootenai Forest to provide the Christmas tree for the Nation,” said Kootenai National Forest Supervisor Christopher Savage. “We’ll look to provide employees and partners to engage in activities and events for the Capitol Christmas tree preparation.”
The Forest Service has partnered with nonprofit Choose Outdoors on the Capitol Christmas tree project.