US Capitol Christmas Tree

Governor Brown Launches 4th Grade Essay Contest: Win the chance to light the tree in D.C.!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

 

Calling all fourth grade students: “Why do you love spending time outdoors?”

One lucky, young Oregonian will have the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C. and join the Speaker of the House in lighting the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree during the official ceremony. To coincide with the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree theme, “Find Your Trail!”, we’re launching an essay contest asking 4th grade students to write letters about what they love about Oregon’s outdoors. Governor Kate Brown will select one letter from statewide submissions to receive a once-in-a-lifetime all-expenses paid trip for the winner and one guardian to travel to Washington, D.C. to take part in the tree-lighting ceremony alongside members of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and the public in attendance, and also attend festivities surrounding the tree lighting taking place throughout the capitol.

Applications and essay submissions are due by Friday, September 28, 2018. The winner will be announced October 12, 2018, with travel to Washington, D.C. the first week of December. Essays submissions should be formatted with 12 point font, 1 inch margins and double spacing. Letters should be no longer than 500 words and will be evaluated on the following criteria: relevant content, clear focus, and originality.

The online application is available on the Governor's website, located here.

KEY DATES:
Last day for submission- September 28, 2018
Winner announced- October 12, 2018


 

Instruction Guide now available for 3rd and 4th Grade Classrooms

Thursday, September 06, 2018

With September upon us, school is back in session and the U.S. Capitol Christmas offers a great learning opportunity for students. In partnership with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, we are pleased to offer the U.S. Capitol Tree Instruction Guide. The guide is designed to help third and fourth-grade teachers use this initiative as a context for investigating why Oregon is such a great place for growing trees. Through graphs and other data, students will examine where Oregon Christmas trees come from and where they go, and explore the importance of trees and forests to our state and beyond.

While the guide uses Oregon forests as inspiration, the content is relevant to any fourth-grade classroom wherever you may be! If you are third or fourth grade teacher or have a student in these grades, consider putting the tools in the guide to use in your classroom this fall, and then follow along with the tree's journey as it travels the Oregon Trail in reverse and out to Washington D.C. in November.

Download the Instruction Guide (PDF) here or request a hard copy of the guide by visiting LearnForests.org.

Happy learning!

 

Find an ornament while finding a trail this weekend

Friday, August 31, 2018

 

Two hundred glass ornaments were hidden along non-wilderness trails on the Willamette National Forest for lucky adventurers to find in contest hosted by the Willamette Valley Visitors Association this summer. In addition to a keepsake ornament, over 120 lucky winners have been awarded prizes, and all who register their ornament will be entered into the grand prize: a three night, four day paid trip for two to Washington D.C. in December 2018 to see the lighting of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

 

There are still 82 ornaments in the forest and Labor Day Weekend is a great time to hit the trail! We're giving you some extra hints to help get you closer to finding the remaining treasures.

*Edited: maps will be updated weekly between now and the end of the contest on Oct. 2. Download this PDF with maps indicating areas to focus on in the forest. 


The contest ends on October 2, the anniversary of the National Trails System Act. Be sure to share your adventures using the hashtags: #FindYourTrail, #FindYourOrnament, #USCapitolChristmasTree and #ItsAllYours.

 
 

 

Be Bear Aware

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

 

 

Repurposed from Recreation.Gov
By Brian Dykstra, Scott Jackson, and Stephanie Coppeto, U.S. Forest Service

Safety in bear country begins before you stay in the campground or hit the trail.

Be Bear Aware: Bears exist in and around a majority of our public lands across the United States and are native and natural members of the wildlife community. Seeing a bear can be an exciting experience, one that will form a lasting memory of your visit. By learning more about bears and their curious nature, you can better prepare for your visit to bear country and make it a positive experience for both you and the bear

About Bears: Bears are curious and intelligent animals, capable of learning and modifying their behavior based on life experiences. Bears have an excellent sense of smell that can span miles and their eyesight is similar to a human’s. The Native Americans have a poignant saying: “A pine needle fell. The eagle saw it. The deer heard it. The bear smelled it.” Smell is a bear’s most fundamental and important sense.

Three bear species live in North America – black bears, brown bears and polar bears, with polar bears living only in the Arctic. Black and brown bears can be identified by these characteristics:
- Black bears (Ursus americanus) are the most abundant and widely distributed of the three species of North American bears. Black bears vary in color from jet black to cinnamon to white, although black is the color encountered most frequently. 

- Brown bears and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) are the same species, even though there are notable differences between them. “Brown bears” typically live along the southern coast of Alaska where they have access to seasonally abundant spawning salmon. The smaller “grizzly bear” lives in the northern and interior areas of Alaska as well as the northern Cascades and Rocky Mountains of the lower 48 states.

Black and brown bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat a variety of plants and animals. Bear diets consist mainly of grasses, roots, berries, insects, and fish and animals, including dead animals. Bear feeding increases in late summer and fall as they prepare for winter hibernation. Bears are opportunistic eaters and can easily develop a taste for human and pet foods. In addition, bears seeking food can be attracted to non-foods that have a smell, such as toothpaste, handy-wipes, soap, some medications, cooking utensils and grills, bird seed and garbage. Most human-bear conflicts occur when bears access and become habituated to human food sources.


Safety when Camping in Bear Country
It is very important to never feed bears! Bears can quickly learn to associate people with food and easily become habituated to human food. Follow these simple guidelines when camping:
- Keep a clean camp. All food, toothpaste, soda and juices, and other bear attractants should be secured away from tents.
- Use food lockers when available or follow the campground’s food storage recommendations and guidelines for properly storing food while in the area.
- Use recycling and trash bins provided at campgrounds frequently instead of storing garbage at your campsite.
- Keep your pets leashed and secure their food between meals.
- While away from camp, secure food and garbage. 

Safety for Hiking in Bear Country
While hiking, you should always watch ahead for bears or bear signs. In their natural habitats, bears prefer to avoid humans but will react aggressively when startled or protecting cubs. Human confrontations with bears are usually the result of a sudden encounter with a bear protecting its space, cubs or food caches.

Use these tips when hiking in bear inhabited areas:
- Avoid surprising bears by making noise, as bears will avoid you if they can hear or smell you.
- Always give a bear space. Never approach, crowd, pursue or displace a bear you see ahead on the trail.
- Never get between a mother and her cub even if the cub appears to be alone or sick.
- Leave pets at home or keep them leashed. Loose dogs can startle bears and cause them to chase the dogs back to their owners. 

If You Encounter a Bear
Whether on the trail or in your campsite, do not run! Remain calm, group together and pick up small children. Continue to face the bear and back away slowly, talking calmly to identify yourself as a human and not another animal. If the bear continues to approach, try to scare it away by making yourself as large and imposing as possible and making loud noises. Carry and know how to use bear spray, which is available at many outdoor retailers and can be used to deter a charging bear.

2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from Willamette National Forest to Be Selected This Week by Architect of the U.S. Capitol

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

 

The 2018 United States Capitol Christmas Tree campaign has reached a new phase of its official process this week. A representative of the Architect of the Capitol is visiting the Willamette National Forest to review candidate trees and to select the Capitol Christmas Tree, which be displayed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in December. Making the trip from Washington, D.C. is 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 U.S. Capitol buildings and grounds.

Together with the local “tree team,” which includes foresters and a botanist, Kaufmann is currently evaluating tree candidates and will select the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, although the winning tree and its location will be kept secret for security reasons until it is cut down in early November.

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 semitruck 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.

“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,” said Kaufmann. “I have no d
oubt 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.” “It’s very exciting to have reached this stage of the yearlong U.S. 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 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree,” said Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home District Ranger. “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 U.S. Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree every year since 1970. In January 2018, the U.S. Forest Service announced that the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree would come from Oregon’s Willamette National Forest. A gift from the Willamette National Forest and the State of Oregon to the people of the United States, 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 2018. The last time Oregon was chosen to provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was in 2002, when a tree was selected from the Umpqua National Forest. Seventy smaller companion trees will also be sent to Washington, D.C., from the Willamette National Forest to decorate government buildings and public spaces this December. Additionally, Oregonians will contribute 10,000 handmade ornaments, to be created throughout 2018. There is still a great need for weatherproof ornaments that are nine to twelve inches in size to decorate the Capitol Christmas tree. Information on upcoming ornament making events, plus a template for creating one at home, is available online.

The theme for the 2018 U.S. 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 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will travel eastward from Oregon on the reverse path of the Oregon Trail. The schedule and special events will be announced this fall. There is still a chance for people 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.

 

 

 

Call for large ornaments

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

 

We hope to create 2,000 additional large ornaments as part of our larger goal of sending 10,000 ornaments to D.C. this year. All Oregon residents are invited to create and submit ornaments directly to us or to attend an upcoming ornament making event. 

Make your own: large ornaments should be 9-12 inches, reflective and colorful, lightweight and waterproof. They cannot include any logos.  Download this brochure for specifications and themes. For ornament ideas, check out our photos and instructions posted here. Keep in mind these are just ideas; feel free to get creative! All ornaments must be received by October 1 and 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. 

 

Stop by an ornament making event: 
Oregon Jamboree - August 3-5, Deschutes Brewery Park Stage (Friday 2-7 p.m.; Saturday, 1-7 p.m.; Sunday 1-6 p.m.) (tickets required)
Sweet Home Community Health Fair - August 18 from 10AM - 2PM, Sweet Home High School Activity Center
Oregon State Fair - August 25 and September 1 from 10AM – 5PM, Salem (tickets required)
Harvest Fest - October 13 from 10AM - 2PM Sankey Park, Sweet Home

 

For more information, or to ask additional questions, please contact Stefanie Gatchell or Nancy Shadomy at the Sweet Home Ranger Station: 541-367-5168 or capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com.


 

 

 

Trail of the Month: Iron Mountain

Sunday, July 22, 2018

It’s no surprise that Iron Mountain is one of the most well-known hikes on the Sweet Home Ranger District. The area is home to more than 300 species of flowering plants and jaw-dropping geology. There are several different access points to the trail near Highway 20 east of Sweet Home. Hikers can enjoy a range of treks from a 1 mile jaunt up to summit from the Civil Road trailhead, or a longer 9 mile loop that includes Cone Peak. A viewing platform sits on the summit at the site of an old fire lookout. On a clear day, one can see all the way north to Mt Hood and south to the Three Sisters. Peak wildflower season is July, so this is the perfect opportunity to check out Iron Mountain!

       

Trail of the Month: Crescent Mountain

Saturday, June 30, 2018

 

The Crescent Mountain hike is challenging but with great scenic rewards! The main trailhead (south trailhead) is located a short distance from Santiam Pass. The trail winds through lush old growth trees before switch-backing through an expansive meadow. After 4 miles, the trails tops out at the summit with an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet. The hike pays dividends with spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and wildflowers. Since this is not a wilderness trail, Crescent Mountain is open to multiple uses including mountain bikes and horses. Please remember to be respectful and share the trail!

Learn more on the Willamette National Forest website.

   

 

You're invited: Christmas in July at the Ballpark

Thursday, June 28, 2018

We’re less than six months away from Christmas and that’s a great reason to celebrate.

Join us on Wednesday, July 25 for a special Christmas-themed night at the ballpark with the Eugene Emeralds presented by Husqvarna. Players will wear special ugly sweater game night jerseys and Smokey Bear will throw out the first pitch. While there, create an ornament to help towards our goal of colleting 10,000 ornaments for the big tree and companion trees, purchase U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and Ems merchandise, have a chance to bid on ugly sweater jerseys auctioned off via silent auction during the game, with funds helping support the project, and more. Wednesday nights are “kids eat free” nights at the ballpark, so it’s a fun night for the whole family! Visit the Eugene Emeralds website to buy tickets to the Ems game vs. the Volcanoes.

Additionally, Willamette National Forest Service staff will be onsite at the Corvallis Knights baseball game the same night hosting ornament making. Wear your favorite ugly Sweater and stay after for a holiday- themed movie post-game. Visit the Corvallis Knights website to buy tickets to the Knights game vs. the Kelowna Falcons.

Santa, Smokey and all of us with the U.S. Forest Service and Choose Outdoors hope to see you there!

 

Find your trail, find the tree, and find your way to D.C.!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Summer is here and it's the perfect time to get outside and explore a forest near you. If you live in or plan to visit Oregon anytime soon, there are two exciting additional incentives to hit the trail. 

Two weeks remain to submit a candidate tree to be considered for the Capitol Christmas Tree! The public is invited to hike and drive the Willamette National Forest- to the east of the City of Sweet Home-to look for the perfect tree. To submit a potential candidate tree, GPS the location, snap a photo, and send the submission to capitolchristmastree2018@gmail.com, or drop your information off at the Sweet Home Ranger District Office, 4431 Hwy 20, Sweet Home OR 97386. Download a flyer containing all of this information here!

While you're out looking for the perfect tree, also be sure to look for one of 200 glass ornaments hidden along non-wilderness trails on the Willamette National Forest for lucky adventurers to find. In addition to a keepsake ornament, over 120 lucky winners will be awarded prizes and all entrants will be automatically entered to win the grand prize: a trip for two to Washington D.C. to attend the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and festivities. Visit Willamette Valley Visitors Association to learn more

Happy hunting!