US Capitol Christmas Tree

​Walking Among Giant Cedars on Montana’s Kootenai National Forest

Friday, September 29, 2017

 

Repurposed with appreciation to Hannah Ettema and the National Forest Foundation

While I don’t hug every tree I meet, it’s hard not to hug a humungous cedar tree that has been standing there for hundreds of years.

Tucked up in the far northwest corner of Montana, the Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area on the Kootenai National Forest features the towering trees you’d expect to find in the damp Northwest. After driving up four miles of paved road to the trailhead, a tall cedar stands right in the middle of the parking lot as if to say, “I can’t be bothered by all you visitors.”

Most who visit the cedars slowly make their way around the 0.9-mile nature trail which features several interpretive signs as well as many benches to simply take in the wonder of these huge trees. If you’d like to escape the crowds for a few minutes as we did, you can easily hop off the short nature trail and continue up the trail to Ross Creek.

Besides the trees, other exciting flora and fauna add to the experience. Giant leaves of the Devil’s club, bigger than your head, are tempting to touch. However, as the signs warn, the leaves and stems are covered in noxious and irritating spines and shouldn’t be handled.

As we made our way back to the main nature trail, we came upon two whitetail deer: a doe and buck who seemed perfectly at ease despite the many nearby cries and shouts from hikers.

If all that tree hugging and exploring rouse your appetite, two picnic tables beneath cedars at the trailhead offer the perfect respite.

The Ross Creek Cedars offer a unique experience on the Kootenai National Forest for all ages. Whether you have an hour or four hours to see these giants, it’s well worth the stop.

Learn more and plan your visit today https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kootenai/recarea/?recid=66084

Hannah Ettema is the Digital Communications Coordinator for the National Forest Foundation based in Missoula, Montana. She enjoys exploring the many National Forests throughout Western Montana.

 

 

 

Announcing the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour

Monday, September 18, 2017

PeoplesTreewill make cross-country journey from Montana to WashingtonD.C.

Libby, MT – September 14, 2017 – Every year, a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree to appear on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season. The Kootenai National Forest in partnership with non profit Choose Outdoors will bring this special gift from Montana to Washington, D.C. for the 2017 season, involving more than 15 communities along the way.

The tree will be cut on Wednesday, November 8 and prepared for the more than 3,000-mile expedition, which includes a series of community celebrations and culminates with the official tree lighting in early December. The tree will make special appearances at whistle stops including:

  • Monday, Nov. 13: Eureka, MT; Whitefish, MT
  • Tuesday, Nov. 14: Libby, MT; Troy, MT; and Trout Creek, MT
  • Wednesday, Nov. 15: Thompson Falls, MT; and Missoula, MT
  • Thursday, Nov. 16: Helena, MT; and Great Falls, MT
  • Friday, Nov. 17: Harlem (Fort Belknap), MT; and Glasgow, MT
  • Saturday, Nov. 18: Glendive, MT; and Dickinson, ND
  • Sunday, Nov 19: Grand Forks, ND; and Browns Valley, MN
  • Monday, Nov 20: Kansas City, MO
  • Tuesday, Nov. 21: Springfield, MO
  • Wednesday, Nov. 22: Poplar Bluff, MO; and Paducah, KY
  • Sunday, Nov. 26: Joint Base Andrews
  • Monday, Nov. 27: Deliver to U.S. Capitol

After arriving in Washington, D.C. the tree lighting will occur in early December as determined by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

This is the second U.S. Capitol Christmas tree to come from the Kootenai National Forest. With all of the wildfires burning on the Kootenai National Forest this summer, the 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree and back-up tree have not been affected. The initiative is made possible thanks to companies large and small as well as volunteers locally and across America, who provide vital support of time and resources, including Skybitz, Kenworth, WhitewoodTransport, Rocky Mountain Ballet Theater, HaleTrailers, AlaskaAirlines, MontanaCraneService, Meritor, Truckload Carriers Association, Sky Snap, ABC FOX Montana, National Forest Foundation, National Automobile Dealers Association, and Permit Wizard.

For tour information, event details, news and updates, and to track the tree cross-country, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com or www.fs.usda.gov/kootenai.

About the Kootenai National Forest: The Kootenai National Forest is in the extreme Northwest corner of Montana and Northeast Idaho and encompasses over 2.2 million acres, an area nearly three times the size of Rhode Island. The Forest is bordered on the north by British Columbia, Canada, and on the west by Idaho. Ranges of high craggy peaks mark the Forest with Snowshoe Peak in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness at 8,738 feet, the highest point. The Whitefish Range, Purcell Mountains, Bitterroot Range, Salish Mountains, and Cabinet Mountains are all part of the rugged terrain radiating from the river valleys. The Forest is dominated by two major rivers, the Kootenai and the Clark Fork, along with several smaller rivers and their tributaries. Two hydro electric dams on the Clark Fork have created the Cabinet Gorge and Noxon reservoirs within the Forest boundary. For more information, visitfs.usda.gov/Kootenai. 

About the U.S. Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land; provides assistance to state and private landowners; and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. For more information, see www.fs.fed.us.

About Choose Outdoors:

 Choose Outdoors works to increase all American's enjoyment, appreciation and support for outdoor recreation activities that connect them to our public lands. These connections will ensure that our public lands will always be there for future generations to cherish. www.chooseoutdoors.org.

 

Entering the Crane Industry with Montana Crane Service

Thursday, September 14, 2017

For over 35 years, Montana Crane Service has been serving the community of Bozeman. With a fleet of cranes ranging from 14 to 140 tons, Montana Crane Service has the ability to help with any task, and this year that includes the 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree.

The team has been preparing for the event for quite some time, and a team of 3 operators will have the honor and task of helping removing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and loading it as it makes its way from the Kootenai National Forest to Washington D.C. “We’re thrilled to be a part of the 2017 tour,” explained Mandy Jo McKeever, who leads Dispatch and Safety at Montana Crane Service. “We are regularly a part of community events, but this is definitely the largest project we’ve been asked to work on, and we’re excited.”

Montana Crane Service currently works with several community events in Bozeman including “Digger Days” with Eagle Mount, an organization that provides quality therapeutic activities for people of all disabilities. Construction companies from all over Bozeman come together to provide equipment and vehicles for the public to view and explore for a small fee as an effort to raise funds for Eagle Mount activities. Other community events include the City of Bozeman’s annual “Touch a Truck,” which allows the public to explore the cranes and machinery of construction companies.

Montana Crane Service doesn’t just provide cranes; the team also services customers in moving machinery, heavy hauling, crane certifications and more. “One day our team could be doing a tree removal, the other could be installing an AC unit.” explained McKeever. The team also utilizes the machinery to help hang Christmas lights in Bozeman for the community in early December

“We sincerely appreciate the enthusiasm and support from Montana Crane Service and so many others,” shared Choose Outdoors President Bruce Ward. “We couldn't continue this great American tradition without the passion of the US Forest Service staff, the generosity and commitment we receive each year from companies like Montana Crane Service and hundreds of volunteers from across the country."

A few weeks ago, Bozeman Operations Manager, Nick Poncelet, accompanied the forest service in Kootenai National Forest to help scout out the tree location. “We couldn’t be more excited to meet so many people through this event and be a part of Montana’s history with the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree!” exclaimed McKeever.

Learn more about Montana Crane Service here.