US Capitol Christmas Tree

Spotlight Trail of the Month: Hackleman Old Growth Grove (Trail #4344)

Monday, April 23, 2018

There is still snow on the ground in the mountains, but it’s never too early to start thinking about summer hikes! The Hackleman Old Growth Trailhead is located 40 miles east of Sweet Home right along Highway 20. It’s a short little jaunt (1/4 mile), but offers spectacular sightings of old growth trees and views of the South Santiam River. A portion of the loop trail is ADA (handicap) accessible and the large parking lot contains a vault toilet. It’s the perfect stop over on the long drive between Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley. 

**Please note: As of April 16th, there is still several feet of snow in this area. The trail should be clear of snow by early summer. Always remember to check conditions before heading out on an adventure in your National Forest. You could also bring your snow shoes!

  

 

Trail of the Month: Hardesty Mountain

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hardesty Mountain just off Hwy 58 in the Willamette National Forest offers a challenging hike. The 3,323 foot gain over 5 miles makes it a good training hike. There isn't a view from the summit, but there are many trilliums out and you may even see a rough-skinned newt waiting for lunch. Learn more.

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

7 Wonders of Oregon

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Oregon is known for its many natural marvels. Our friends at Travel Oregon have created a list of 7 Wonders to experience throughout the state. Visit TravelOregon.com to learn more and plan your visit.


Help wanted: decorate the tree

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

 

The Willamette National Forest's Sweet Home Ranger District will be sending one large Capitol Christmas tree and 75 smaller companion trees back to Washington, DC to adorn the Capitol buildings for the 2018 holiday season. That means a lot of decorations! We need your help to create a total of 10,000 handmade ornaments to send to our nation's capital to decorate these Christmas trees. There are several ways to get involved:

Attend an ornament making event

The Willamette National Forest and its partners will be staffing ornament making booths at the following events. We’d love to have you join us! A list of events is below, or can be downloaded as a part of this flyer.

  • Sweet Home Chamber Awards Banquet Dinner** - April 7 from 5-6PM, Sweet Home Boys and Girls Club
  • Oregon Ducks Football Spring Game** - April 21, Moshofsky Center, Eugene
  • Oakridge Tree Planting Festival – May 5th from 11AM - 3PM, High School Track
  • Free Fishing Day - June 2 at 10AM, Timber Linn Park (Albany), Detroit Lake, Willamette Fish Hatchery (Oakridge)
  • Sweet Home Safety Fair - June 23 at 9AM , Sweet Home Police Department
  • Emerald (EMS) Baseball Game** - July 25 from 6-9PM, PK Park, Eugene
  • Sportsman's Holiday - July 14 at 10AM, Sweet Home High School
  • Oregon Jamboree** - August 3-5, Sweet Home High School
  • 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
  • Harvest Fest - Saturday October 13 from 10AM - 2PM Sankey Park, Sweet Home

** indicates events that require an entrance fee

Host your own event!

We are in search of groups, schools, organizations and individuals who'd like to host their own 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree ornament making events. Any ornaments made will help us reach our goal of 6,500 small ornaments and 3,500 large ornaments to adorn the Capitol Christmas trees in Washington DC!

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!

Ornaments should reflect Oregon's cultural heritage, historical events or people and our natural resources. Let's show the nation why we are proud to be from Oregon! Ornaments must meet the following specifications:

Small Ornaments Large Ornaments
    4-6 inches in size
    Reflective & Colorful
    Lightweight & Durable
    No Logos
    9-12 inches in size
    Reflective & Colorful
    Lightweight & Waterproof
    No Logos
All 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, 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.

Oregon to Provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

Sweet Home, Ore., January 19, 2018 – The Willamette National Forest announced today that Oregon has been selected to provide the 2018 United States Capitol Christmas Tree. 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.

Every year since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree. This year, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be cut from the Sweet Home Ranger District. Seventy smaller companion trees will also be sent to Washington, D.C., to decorate government buildings and public spaces this December. Additionally, Oregonians will contribute 10,000 handmade ornaments, to be created throughout 2018. These ornaments will celebrate the state’s cultural history and people, landscapes, natural resources, and fish and wildlife.

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.

“We are thrilled to be delivering the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and we invite all Oregonians to be a part of this special experience throughout 2018—from making an ornament to exploring the Willamette National Forest with family and friends—in search of the perfect tree to send to Washington, D.C.,” said Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home District Ranger, Willamette National Forest.

“There is a rich history of Oregon’s forests providing for the needs of Oregonians. The Willamette National Forest provides recreational opportunities, fishing, hunting, mushroom harvesting, firewood, minerals, wood products and, of course, Christmas trees. We hope this yearlong Capitol Christmas Tree event inspires people to explore the National Forests across Oregon, and to ‘Find Your Trail,’” she continued.

The last time Oregon was chosen to provide the Capitol Christmas Tree was in 2002, when a tree was selected from the Umpqua National Forest.

“We are very honored to have been chosen to provide the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and to share some of our state’s incredible beauty with the rest of America,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Majestic, towering conifers have long stood as an icon of Oregon’s magnificent forests. This tree will symbolize our rich natural resources, our deep Native American heritage, and the people of Oregon, who are known for their independent spirit, innovation and love for our state’s diverse landscapes.”

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree’s Journey to Washington, D.C.

In November 2018, a modern-day wagon train carrying the Christmas tree and ornaments will begin its eastward journey from Sweet Home, following the path of the Oregon Trail in reverse. The wagon train will make stops in a variety of communities across Oregon and the country before arriving in Washington, D.C. The travel route, schedule and special events will be available at www.capitolchristmastree.com.

The Willamette National Forest has partnered with Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon for the Capitol Christmas Tree project, and a host of partners, sponsors, and volunteers will contribute funding and thousands of hours to help make ornaments and transport the tree from Oregon to Washington, D.C.

Opportunities for Public Participation Throughout 2018

Oregonians and Oregon visitors are invited to participate in U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree activities around the state during 2018, including helping to find the perfect tree to go to Washington, D.C.

  • Find the tree! The public is invited to hike and drive the Willamette National Forest—outside of the City of Sweet Home—to look for the perfect Capitol Christmas 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. Guidelines: The perfect tree is 65 to 85 feet in height with a conical shape that is visually pleasing from all angles. The tree must reside on U.S. Forest Service land in the Sweet Home Ranger District, preferably close to a road that will allow for access for a semi-truck and cranes to harvest the tree. Submission deadline: May 2018. Don’t forget to share your adventures on social media (Facebook and Twitter) with the #USCapitolChristmasTree, #FindYourTrail and #ItsAllYours hashtags.
  • Join an ornament-making event or host your own. Ten thousand handmade ornaments will adorn the Capitol Christmas Tree and the 70 smaller companion trees. There will be ornament-making events throughout Oregon in 2018. The first event will take place on January 20 at the Boys & Girls Club in Sweet Home (1 p.m.; 890 18th Ave.). The Willamette National Forest also invites schools, churches and community groups to contribute ornaments. There will be templates and instructions posted on the website and social media. For a schedule of events and further details, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com.
  • See the Capitol Christmas Tree as it travels along the Oregon Trail in November 2018. The travel route, schedule and special events will be available at www.capitolchristmastree.com.

To get involved: email us here.


 

Willamette National Forest Unveils Symbol Representative of Oregon for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Friday, January 19, 2018

Oregon’s Willamette National Forest was selected to choose and supply the People’s Tree for 2018 for the grounds of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The Willamette National Forest, together with Travel Oregon, has designed alogo that captures the beauty of the State of Oregon and the Willamette National Forest, with its snowcapped mountain, fields of green and lush forests. The trail leading to the tree symbolizes the adventurous spirit of Oregonians since early settlers first traversed the Oregon Trail. The logo encourages modern-day adventurers to #FindYourTrail in the Willamette National Forest.

Tester Teams up with Bozeman Sixth Grader to Light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

 

Published by Senator Jon Tester, December 6, 2017

(West Lawn, U.S. Capitol) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester kicked off the holiday season tonight alongside Bozeman sixth-grader Ridley Brandmayr as they lit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

"When Senator Tester called my dad and told me, it didn't feel real. It took about five minutes for it to sink in," Brandmayr said. "But it definitely became real tonight and it was an experience I will never forget."

The 79-foot Engelmann Spruce traveled nearly 3,500 miles from Montana's Kootenai National Forest to grace the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building-making stops in 13 Montana cities along the way. As the senior Senator from the tree's home state, Tester was tasked with selecting the tree lighter and helping organize this year's celebration. He asked Ridley after the Bozeman sixth grader lost his right hand in a tragic accident earlier this year. Tester lost three fingers on his left hand in a similar accident when he was a kid.

"This tree has been growing in Montana for decades - enduring brutal fire seasons, and braving harsh winters. It's reached almost 80 feet tall, nourished by Montana's rich soil and sustained by clean mountain water." Tester said. "This tree is more than a symbol of the natural resources the Treasure State has to offer - it represents our shared history, intertwined with our outdoor heritage and our Montana values."

The event was co-hosted by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and also featured the other two members of Montana's Congressional delegation. On hand were dozens of folks who helped shepherd the tree from Montana to D.C.

"The selection and delivery of the Capitol Christmas tree from the Kootenai National Forest has been an extreme honor for the Forest Service and State of Montana," said Sandi Mason, the Kootenai Forest's Capitol Christmas Tree project leader. "We have met a ton of fantastic people across this great country of ours and this will be a journey that we will never forget. We are proud to display the tree, along with all of the ornaments and tree skirts that were handmade by people from all over the State."

Others in attendance included Larry Spiekermeier of Whitewood Transportation, the man who drove the tree across nearly a dozen state over the course of a two-week journey. Spiekermeier is a two-time Montana Motor Carriers "driver of the year" who hails from Plains, Montana. He will celebrate a half century on the road next year.

The tree was decorated with nearly 3,000 handmade ornaments from folks across Big Sky country. It was flanked by a custom tree skirt quilted by Shawna Crawford of Lewistown and topped by a five-foot tall copper star commissioned by the Washington Companies of Missoula, fabricated by Split Mountain Metal of Belgrade, and lit by Western Montana Lighting of Missoula.

Since 1970, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The last tree to hail from Montana was a Subalpine Fir from the Bitterroot National Forest in 2008. The Kootenai National Forest also provided "The People's Tree" in 1989.

Watch a livestream of the event HERE.


 

Tale of a Tree and a Star

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Posted by Robert Hudson Westover, U.S. Forest Service, Washington D.C. in ForestryNov 29, 2017

For many in the D.C. area, the arrival of the towering Capitol Christmas Tree means the holiday season has begun. Every year local residents and tourists from all over the country, as well as delegations from the state that provides the tree, come to view the official lighting of what is fondly referred to as “the people’s tree” on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill.

Since 1970 the U.S. Forest Service has provided the national Capitol Christmas Tree, and every year it’s different and exciting in literally thousands of ways. This year’s tree, a 79-foot Engelmann spruce cut from the Kootenai National Forest in Montana, will be adorned with thousands of ornaments handmade by the children on Montana.

The tree called Beauty of the Big Sky began its cross country sojourn in early November and has made 21 stops at towns and cities along the way including the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Kentucky.

And in a first, the tree will have a star built in the same state. In August, organizers reached out to The Washington Companies, a Missoula-based conglomerate that includes Montana Rail Link, mining company Montana Resources, and environmental remediation business Envirocon.

Architect of the Capitol with members of the Montana Congressional Delegation speaking as well as USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan presides over the ceremony, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 6th on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

As is the tradition, a child from the home state will flip the switch to illuminate the tree. Ridley Brandmayr, an 11-year-old Bozeman boy who lost the fingers of his right hand in an accident this summer, has been chosen by Montana Sen. Jon Tester to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree at the outdoor ceremony.

The tradition of a U.S. Capitol Christmas tree dates to the 1960s. In 1964, a 24-foot Douglas fir was bought for $700 from a nursery in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and placed on the West Front lawn. That tree died after a severe storm and root damage, but the tradition of a tree on the Capitol grounds continued with the USDA Forest Service providing a tree from one of its forests.

A tree in the air
A great deal of expertise is required to safely position the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in place. The next stop for the dangling colossus will be the West Lawn. (Photo credit: Robert Westover, U.S. Forest Service)

US Capitol Christmas Tree Seven Lincoln County Students to See Lighting of Tree, Meet with Officials

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

 

From The Western News, November 28, 2017

As the the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on Monday ended its journey from the Kootenai National Forest to Washington, D.C., seven juniors and seniors from Lincoln County’s three high schools were eagerly anticipating their upcoming trip to see it being lit.

The students — Hunter Leighty, Allie Coldwell and Katelyn Downey of Troy High School; Sidney Stevenson and Will O’Connell of Libby High School; and Ashlyn Carvey and Mason Davis of Lincoln County High School in Eureka — won the honor of witnessing holiday history by winning the Kootenai National Forest Capitol Christmas Tree photo contest.

In addition to watching the tree lighting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, the students will attend a reception hosted by Sen. Jon Tester at the United States Botanic Garden and a reception hosted by U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, among other items.

For Leighty, the trip will be the second time he’s traveled outside of Montana and his first visit to the nation’s capitol.

“All of this is pretty cool and a little nerve racking,” he wrote via Facebook message. “I can’t wait.”

Carvey learned about the contest online while working for a Youth Conservation Crew over the summer, which expanded her knowledge of the Kootenai National Forest. She said she “thought it would be cool to win a trip to (Washington), D.C.,” a city she, too, has never before visited.

“I’m very excited to see a big city coming from a small town and hope to see more of the city and maybe go to the mall,” she wrote.

When Downey learned about the contest last spring, she said she “immediately knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”

“Going to the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I figured that our area is so beautiful that anyone could have a shot at winning the photo contest,” she wrote. “If all I had to do was get out, enjoy what the Kootenai National Forest has to offer, and take some pictures, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Another first-time visitor to Washington, D.C., Downey wrote she is “super excited and grateful for the opportunity” and “would love to get out and see a little bit of the history that D.C. has to offer” if they have time outside of what’s already planned.

Stevenson was encouraged to enter the contest by her mother, Troy District Forest Ranger Kirsten Kaiser, who accompanied the trip for part of its journey east.

“It is such a great opportunity, so I couldn’t pass it up,” she wrote. “And I have never been to (Washington), D.C.”

Davis, who worked alongside his classmate Carvey in the Youth Conservation Crew, “was motivated to enter the contest because I just started getting into photography, and this seemed like a good place to start displaying my photos. (And) I’ve never actually been to the East Coast in general, so going right to Washington will be a really cool experience.”

Coldwell and O’Connell could not be reached by deadline.

The students’ winning photos were matted and framed by Devi McCully of Frames Unlimited and will be sent to Washington, D.C., where County Administrator Darren Coldwell said it will be presented to the Speaker of the House and the Capitol Architect.

“From there it’s final resting place will be in the Sidney Yates building” where the Forest Service is located, Coldwell wrote in an email.

 

Trucker originally from Casselton hauling Capitol Christmas tree to Washington

Thursday, November 16, 2017

From Ag Week, November 16, 2017

FARGO, N.D. — A few days after Thanksgiving, a Casselton boy, now 70, will get a private tour of the White House. That will happen after he drops off a 79-foot tall Engelmann spruce at the U.S. Capitol to serve as the Capitol Christmas tree. He's driving it from Montana aboard a 102-foot long tractor-trailer.

You can see the tree and meet the driver, Larry Spiekermeier, in Fargo on Sunday morning, Nov. 19, if your timing is right.,

The Capitol Christmas tree was cut last week in Montana's Kootenai National Forest, and began its trek to Washington, D.C., on Monday. It will travel nearly 3,500 miles through 10 states, making 20 official stops, before being delivered to the west lawn of the Capitol on Monday, Nov. 27.

The tree will make official stops in the region at Dickinson, Grand Forks, and Browns Valley, Minn., but the Fargo stop is an unscheduled stop that is being made because Spiekermeier grew up in the area, still has many friends and relatives here, and requested it.

The truck and its sizeable entourage will stop to get fuel at Love's truck stop on 39th Street South in Fargo, just west of Interstate 29. Spiekermeier figures he'll arrive there about 11 or 11:30 on Sunday morning, if all goes right.

He will stay as long as it takes to fill the truck's tanks with diesel, probably about 30 minutes. He encourages the public to come see the tree while he does that.

Spiekermeier was chosen to drive the truck by his employer, Whitewood Transport, of Billings, Mont. He was selected because of his exemplary driving record and his expertise at driving extra-large loads. He's never had an accident in 3.5 million miles of driving a big rig.

"It's an honor," Spiekermeier said. "It was a shock that they chose me to do it."

It's a fitting climax to a nearly 50-year driving career for Spiekermeier, who has been driving tractor-trailers since the day he turned 21 on July 18, 1968, the first day he was legally allowed to haul a load across state lines. His employer, Fargo's Mitchell Transport, had him haul a truckload of cement to Minnesota.

Spiekermeier was born in Fargo and grew up in Casselton, where his father owned a farm implement dealership. He graduated from high school at Central Cass School in 1965 and entered the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, where he earned a two-year business degree.

Spiekermeier moved to Montana in 1975, without a job lined up. "I liked hunting. I liked the outdoors. I liked the mountains. I just went out and bought an old logging truck, and that's how I got started."

These days, Spiekermeier lives in western Montana in a town called Plains. Although he hasn't lived in North Dakota in many years, he's maintained strong ties to the area. Two brothers live in West Fargo. He has numerous relatives around Enderlin and nearby Sheldon. Until his parents died, he visited Fargo five or six times a year.

Ironically, his daughter now lives in Fargo, where she works as a computer specialist. Spiekermeier and his wife, Mary Ann, regularly travel to Fargo to visit her and their grandkids. He also stops whenever he hauls a load through the area.

He still roots for North Dakota State University athletics teams. "He's pretty annoying with all that NDSU Bison stuff," joked J.B. Behounek, a salesman at Whitewood.

The Capitol Christmas tree (not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, which is a live pine on the White House grounds that is decorated every year) will be carried in a large container with Plexiglas sides, which will protect the tree from road salt and other damaging materials, while still allowing people to view the tree on its trip to the nation's capital.

Workers spent a week preparing the tree for transport. Its branches measure 30 feet from tip to tip, so they had to be slowly and carefully folded inward to fit into the eight-foot wide box and prevent them from being damaged. The process will be reversed after the tree arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, outside Washington. A 100-gallon "bladder" attached to the tree will keep it moist.

Spiekermeier won't drive his own truck to Washington, but one that has been specially decorated for the occasion. He will also be accompanied by a multi-vehicle entourage. Two U.S. Forest Service law enforcement vehicles, lights flashing, will escort the truck. It will be followed by a second truck that will carry 73 smaller trees that will decorate government offices, plus 12,000 ornaments. Six other vehicles will travel with him.

The tour will include 12 stops in Montana, two in North Dakota, one in Minnesota, three in Missouri, one in Kentucky and one in Maryland. The tour will stop in downtown Dickinson at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18; downtown Grand Forks at 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19; and Browns Valley at 1:30 p.m. that same day. There will be ceremonies at each stop.

Spiekermeier's wife will ride with him to Fargo. They will rendezvous with his two brothers and daughter in Grand Forks. His wife, daughter, brothers and sister will fly to Washington for the tree-lighting ceremony.

He and his wife will tour the White House. He doesn't know if he'll get to meet President Donald Trump. Would he like to do that? "You bet," he said.

Spiekermeier supports Trump, though he didn't get the opportunity to vote for him. Fittingly, he was on the road.