US Capitol Christmas Tree

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.