SWEET HOME, Ore. – Aug. 9, 2018 – A representative of the Architect of the Capitol is visiting the Willamette National Forest to select the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which be displayed on the National Mall in December.
The forest’s local “tree team,” which includes foresters and a botanist, have been working with their southwest Oregon community for months to identify the candidates, which include 80′ by 30′ specimens representing several native Oregon specieis.
Jim Kaufmann, the Director of the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum at the Architect of the Capitol, the federal agency responsible for the operations and care of the Capitol buildings and grounds, will make the final selection following his visit, which will be announced when the tree is cut in early November.
“Oregon is known around the country for its spectacular natural beauty, including its incredible national forests. It’s a privilege to visit the Willamette National Forest to select the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree,” Kaufmann said. “I have no doubt that we will find the perfect tree for the West Lawn of the Capitol, and we’re thrilled to have Oregon be an important part of the nation’s holiday celebration this year.”
Forest staff had invited members of their community to help identify suitable trees for the eff, and continues to work with local individuals and organizations to produce the 10,000 ornaments needed to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree, and dozens of smaller trees that will be displayed throughout the Capitol itself.
Kaufmann will be evaluating each tree for a variety of desired characteristics, including being 65-85 feet in height, having a straight stem, uniform branching, a perfectly conical shape, natural density, and rich green color. Each of the tree candidates is either a Douglas or Noble fir tree, the two most iconic conifer species in both the Willamette National Forest and the state. The Douglas-fir is Oregon’s official state tree. Also of great importance is the tree’s accessibility by crane and semi-truck for when it’s time for it to be harvested. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service is evaluating each location to ensure the protection of sensitive habitats and species.
“It’s very exciting to have reached this stage of the yearlong Capitol Christmas Tree process, which started in January when the U.S. Forest Service announced that the Willamette National Forest had been selected to provide the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree,” Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home District Ranger, said. “We have identified some absolutely beautiful candidates that will represent the State of Oregon perfectly, and we look forward to unveiling the winning tree in November, as we tour it along the Oregon Trail on its way to Washington, D.C.”
The theme for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree is “Find Your Trail!” in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail. In November, the Capitol Christmas Tree will travel eastward from Oregon on the reverse path of the Oregon Trail. The schedule and special events will be announced on October 30, 2018.
You still have a chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and festivities, through the “Find Your Ornament” contest!
Earlier this summer, 200 glass ornaments were hidden along non-wilderness trails on the Willamette National Forest for lucky adventurers to find. In addition to a keepsake ornament, more than 120 winners will be awarded prizes, and all entrants will be automatically entered to win the grand prize trip to Washington, D.C.
The contest runs through October 2, 2018. Further details are available at the Willamette Valley Visitors Association website.
Willamette National Forest public affairs staff. Learn more about the Capitol Christmas Tree, at: www.capitolchristmastree.com. To get involved, email the Willamette National Forest Christmas “Tree team” at firstname.lastname@example.org.