Monthly Archives: August 2018

Last call to contribute ornaments to 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree!

Two women pose with an array of handmade Christmas tree skirts

SWEET HOME, Ore. – Aug. 24, 2018 – Oregonians have contributed thousands of hand-made ornaments to adorn dozens of trees from the Willamette National Forest that will decorate the U.S. Capitol halls this summer… but there’s still work to do!

The 70-foot Capitol Christmas Tree, whose massive, be-decked boughs will bring season’s greetings from the state to visitors on the National Mall throughout the holiday season, still needs a bit more, um, sprucing up.*

* The 2018 Capitol Christmas tree is not actually a spruce, it’s a fir – either a Douglas Fir or a Noble Fir. The tree was selected by the Architect of the Capitol this summer, and it’s identity is still being kept under wraps for security reasons but will be announced shortly before the tree is felled this fall.

“We still need large ornaments,” Stephani Gatchell, the Ornament Lead for Sweet Home Ranger District, which is providing this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree. Around 2000 more ornaments, in fact. It will take 3,500 large ornaments, in all, to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree.

Ornaments contributed to date have sported an eclectic mix Oregon, outdoors, and forest-focused themes as diverse as their creators. Freedom Hill Church offered placards, painted with spiritual messages of hope and peace, campers from Camp Harlow in Eugene delivered 400 decorated sugar pine cone ornaments for the small trees, and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) delivered 17 tree skirts in addition to more than 800 ornaments.

But because the main Capitol Christmas Tree is so tall, and is displayed outdoors, ornaments for this tree have some additional requirements.

Large Capitol Christmas tree ornaments should be:

  • 9-12 inches in size,
  • Reflective and colorful
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof.

Logos are not permitted on ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree.

Are you up for the challenge? Visit to learn how you can contribute to this incredible display of seasonal spirit and Oregon pride in Washington D.C. during the 2018 winter holiday season.

Ornaments must be received by October 1, 2018. They can be dropped off in person at any one of our drop locations located here or mailed to the Sweet Home Ranger District at: 4431 Hwy 20, Sweet Home OR 97386.

For more information, contact Sweet Home Ranger Station by calling (541) 367-5168 or email

Have you found your Capitol Christmas Tree commemorative ornament yet?

More than 100 have been found, but there are still more to find! Registered ornaments could win instant prizes and are entered in a drawing for a trip to see the 2018 tree-lighting in Washington D.C.

Check to see what trails still have unclaimed ornaments at this link, and #FindYourTrail! (Contest ends Oct. 2, 2018).

More info:

Source information: Willamette National Forest staff

Bog-dwelling beetle spotted on Olympic NF

A beetle crawls on a piece of moss.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Aug. 24, 2018 –  An Olympic National Forest biologist and a pair of Student Conservation Association student interns have documented the first known site for the Beller’s ground beetle (Agonum belleri) on the Olympic Peninsula.

Karen Holtrop, a USDA Forest Service wildlife biologist, Student Conservation Association interns Karen Guzman and Conor Cubit, and employees of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, found the beetle while conducting surveys for the beetle at the the Cranberry Bog Botanical Area in the Dungeness watershed, located on the Olympic National Forest,in June.

An intern sets beetle traps

Student Conservation Associaton intern Karen Guzman sets an insect trap during a survey for Beller’s ground beetle at the Cranberry Bog Botanical Area on Olympic National Forest June 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Karen Holtrop.

Beller’s ground beetle is a wetland-dependent ground beetle that is regionally listed as a “sensitive species” by the USDA Forest Service.  The agency lists species as “sensitive” when there’s a concern regarding the species population numbers, density, or habitat.

A woman examining a beetle in a specimen jar.

Annabelle Pfeffer, an intern working with the USDA Forest Service, holds a Beller’s ground beetle specimen during an earlier survey, May 3, 2018. USDA Forest Service file photo by Karen Holtrop.

The beetle was suspected to live on the Olympic National Forest, but that had not been confirmed until now. It is usually found in sphagnum bogs at a range of elevations, from sea level to alpine.

Threats include habitat destruction from urban development, logging, water-level alteration, peat-mining, and pesticides, and climate changes affecting bog water levels or seasonal duration periods.

The Beller’s ground beetle is also known to live on the Mt. Hood National Forest, and is also believed to be present on the Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests — although this has not yet been confirmed.

The Olympic National Forest conducts regular surveys for wildlife, fish, and botanical species. Surveys are usually done in cooperation with state and federal agencies, tribes, non-government agencies, citizen volunteers, and others.

This summer, surveyors also confirmed the presence of the Makah copper butterfly on the forest.

Information gathered by such surveys not only documents where habitat for species can be found, but also helps identify locations for and the success of restoration efforts. For example, Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, a federally endangered species was discovered to have returned to an area of the peninsula, following planting of native vegetation in its historical habitat as a result of a wildlife survey.

Interns prepare to survey for beetles in a spaughnum bog.

Karen Guzman and Conor Cubit, Student Conservation Association interns working with the Olympic National Forest, surveyed for Beller’s ground beetle on the forest’s Cranberry Bog Botanical Area June 27, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Karen Holtrop.

Source information: Olympic National Forest: