US Capitol Christmas Tree

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.


 

All is bright: Capitol Christmas Tree will be topped with Montana-made star

Monday, November 13, 2017

The 5-foot tall copper star is the first to come from the state supplying the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and features a representation of Montana’s state flower, the bitterroot. The star is made from copper as a nod to the rich copper mining tradition of Butte, Mont. It was designed, planned, and funded by the Washington Companies, fabricated by Split Mountain Metals, and lighted by Western Montana Lighting.

    

 

Companion Trees Help tell the Story of the Kootenai

Thursday, November 02, 2017

 

In addition to the 79 foot Englemann Spruce, nearly 70 companion trees will make their way to Washington D.C., where they will grace legislative offices and federal buildings, and be decorated with some of the 12,000+ ornaments and nearly 80 tree skirts collected throughout the state of Montana.

Trees came from Libby, Stillwater, Swan, and Kalispell in Northwest Montana. Most range from 6 to 8 feet tall and represent a variety of species.

On October 31, Montana Department of Natural Resources Forester, Mike Justus, collected trees from each area and delivered to Libby, where Steve Gauger, retired Forest Service and Christmas tree farmer from Eureka, bundled and wrapped the trees for transport to D.C.

    

 

Thank you to the Montana Department of Natural Resources for the support!


 

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Viewing Event Nov. 7

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The public is invited to join us in celebrating the beginning of the journey for the Capitol Christmas Tree- the “People’s Tree.” The celebration will begin at 2:00 PM on November 7, 2017 at the Upper Ford Historic Ranger Station near Yaak, MT.

Festivities beginning at 2:30 PM: 

Yaak School Singers

Speakers, including Kootenai Forest Supervisor, Chris Savage; Senator Jon Tester Representative, Chad Campbell; Lincoln County Commissioner, Jerry Bennett
Tree “cutting” & limbing (Note that the tree will not be felled during this public event due to equipment location and safety requirements.)
Photo opportunities with tree and sawyer
Display viewing, cookies, hot cocoa, ornaments for sale


PARKING IS VERY LIMITED, PLEASE COORDINATE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR AND EXPECT TO WALK

 

Ornaments and Tree Skirts to Adorn Capitol Christmas Tree and Companion Trees in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

 

LIBBY, Mont. October 17, 2017The month ofOctober hardly seems like the time to talk about Christmas ornaments and tree skirts as Halloween is still some weeks away. However, the planning for the Capitol Christmas Tree project began in earnest in January 2017 and will go on until the Capitol tree and companion trees and accessories are delivered to the Capitol grounds.

Initially, it was estimated that 8,000 tree ornaments and 70 tree skirts would be needed by the October 1 deadline. The Kootenai Forest and partners, individuals, and groups surpassed the 8,000 ornaments goal by collecting well over 11,000 ornaments and seventy-three tree skirts to date. Every community in Lincoln and Sanders County had ornament making opportunities throughout the year, with volunteers collectively making thousands of ornaments.

“A big thank you to the ornament committee for coordinating and promoting ornament making activities throughout the year,” said Kootenai Forest Supervisor Christopher Savage. “A job well done.” This undertaking would have not been possible without the support of hundreds of individuals, groups, school children, and partners from around the State of Montana and Tribal input.

The Capitol Christmas tree, also known as the “People’s Tree,” which could reach 65-85 feet tall, will be displayed on the west lawn of the Capitol building. At least three-thousand ornaments about 9-12 inches long, lightweight, colorful, and weatherproof will be needed for this tree. This Tree should not be confused with the National Christmas Tree, a large evergreen tree located near the White House which is decorated as a live Christmas tree.

The seventy companion trees, which could be between 6-25 feet tall, will go to the various government offices in Washington. The other 4-6 inch-long ornaments will be needed for the smaller trees. Tree skirts will also be provided for the companion trees.

The tree ornaments and tree skirts will be organized and boxed and make their way to the Capitol grounds to adorn the Capitol Christmas tree and 70 companion trees in government offices in Washington, D.C.

The ornaments and tree skirts, which were made primarily by Montana residents, is not only an honor and way to celebrate the holiday season but also provides a national showcase for the Kootenai National Forest, Forest Service, and State of Montana.

The Capitol tree will be cut on Wednesday, November 8 and prepped for the more than 3,000 mile expedition, culminating with an official tree lighting in early December as determined by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The lighting will be broadcast live on national television.

 

Christmas at the Huckleberry Festival a Hit

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It was a wonderful weekend at the Huckleberry Festival! Saturday (August 12) was a very busy day with more than 80 new ornaments created by folks young and young at heart. We had a fabulous time talking and laughing with interested people who were very enthusiastic about the Capitol Christmas Tree, ornaments, and the Forest Service. The Cabinet District had displays on Recreation, Timber, Wilderness, Trails, and Fire. Many people took the opportunity to collect Smokey Bear items and to make original design ornaments. Sunday’s weather held down the crowd for a while but the day ended with several visitors and new ornaments. Even the Cabinet District Ranger got in on the ornament making! Thanks to all who participated and to the District people who helped make the weekend a success. -  Post by Stacey Hazen, Forester, Kootenai National Forest

 

    

      

Christmas in July: Make Ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree on the 4th

Thursday, June 15, 2017

If you're in the area, be sure to stop by the Troy Old Fashion 4th of July Celebration and make an ornament for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. Join us at the Morrison Elementary School gym following the parade (around 11:30 a.m.) until 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4. 

For more information, contact the Three Rivers District at 406-295-4693