US Capitol Christmas Tree

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.

 

 

 

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.

   

 

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!

 

A Teachable Moment with Oregon Forest Resources Institute

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

 

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree offers a unique opportunity for students to discover Oregon’s forests and their importance to the people, culture and communities of the state and beyond. As 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Trails Act and the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, the year- long project also provides opportunities for students and their families to explore trails in our National Forests.

Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) is a well-established organization that is dedicated to advancing public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products, and encouraging sound forestry through landowner education. In 2016, OFRI brought together a diverse, statewide group of forest resource specialists, educators and academics to develop the 2016 Oregon Forest Literacy Plan - a set of guidelines aimed to help K-12 educators teach about Oregon's forests. The result of this collaboration is a document that gives teachers in a strong foundation for developing curricula and classroom lessons related to forests and natural resources. 

This fall, OFRI, in partnership with the Willamette National Forest and Choose Outdoors, will offer the U.S. CAPITOL CHRISTMAS TREE INSTRUCTION GUIDE. Available in August, this document will contain learning activities and other supports to help 3rd and 4th grade teachers connect the initiative to the classroom. While this guide is being developed in the state of Oregon, teachers across the country will be invited to utilize the curriculum for the classrooms. An announcement will be made in August with details on accessing the guide.

We are grateful to the staff and board of OFRI for their generous support of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and helping to bring the story of the tree and importance of our forests to life. Meantime, download the educator announcement talking about 2018 opportunities, check out learnforests.org for other education resources on Oregon’s forests, and hit the trail with family to explore a forest near you this summer. 


 

Find Your Trail on National Trails Day - and Every Day

Saturday, June 02, 2018

 

In 2018, America is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act. Today, the National Trails System (NTS) includes 11 National Scenic Trails and 19 National Historic Trails authorized by Congress, and more than 1,200 National Recreation Trails (including 21 National Water Trails). Preservation and development of Rail Trails is also fostered in this act. These trails provide outdoor recreation opportunities, promote resource preservation and public access, and encourage the appreciation of the great outdoors and America’s history and cultural diversity.

The task to protect and maintain more than 200,000 miles of trails in the U.S. requires a collaborative effort among trail clubs, organizations, government agencies, and most importantly passionate trail advocates and stewards. An initiative of the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day was first celebrated in 1993 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and has been held annually on the first Saturday in June ever since. National Trails Day encourages Americans of all ages and abilities get out and enjoy, build and maintain trails during one of the thousands of events hosted throughout the country.

With over 1.5 million acres, the beautiful Willamette National Forest is home to 8 wilderness areas – including the popular Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson Wildernesses – and has over 1,700 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The varied landscapes of the high mountains, costal rainforests, narrow canyons and cascading streams offer visitors excellent opportunities to play and explore. That’s why “Find Your Trail” is the perfect theme for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree – we’re paying homage to the 50th anniversary, promoting exploration and enjoyment of trails and National Forests with youth and families, and fostering understanding and stewardship of the importance of our forests.

Whether you’re a part of an official event today or enjoying one of your favorite trails throughout the year, be sure to appreciate the tireless work that goes in to caring for our trails and consider taking the American Hiking Society pledge: Leave the trail better than you found it.

And be sure to share your favorite trail with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (#findyourtrail).

 


 

Ornament Hunt and Sweepstakes Highlight the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from the Willamette National Forest

Thursday, May 24, 2018

 

SWEET HOME, OREGON – The Willamette Valley Visitors Association has launched a Christmas tree ornament hunt in the Willamette National Forest to inspire and increase outdoor recreation activities, connect locals and travelers to public lands, and to win prizes. Two hundred glass ornaments will be hidden along non-wilderness trails on the Willamette National Forest beginning May 24, 2018 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.

The ornament hunt will highlight 1,700 miles of trails on the Willamette National Forest. 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 Systems Act, and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail. There is a rich history of Oregon’s forests providing for the needs of Oregonians. The Willamette National Forest provides recreational opportunities, fishing, hunting, foraging, firewood, minerals, wood products and, of course, Christmas trees. We hope this exciting ornament hunt will inspire people to explore the Willamette National Forest and all it has to offer.

The Sweet Home Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest is responsible for providing the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree. The Willamette National Forest in partnership with nonprofit Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon will bring this special gift from Oregon to Washington D.C. for the 2018 holiday season with support from sponsors, including the Willamette Valley Visitors Association. The tree will be cut on the Sweet Home Ranger District in early November and prepared for the 3,000-mile expedition to Washington D.C. The coast-to-coast journey will trace the Oregon Trail in reverse and include a series of community celebrations throughout Oregon and across the United States. The journey will culminate with the official tree lighting on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in early December. 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. (Learn more through the "Participate" pages on the website.)

The Willamette Valley Visitors Association website will serve as the hub for contest winners to claim their prizes throughout the contest which will run from Memorial Day weekend to October 2, 2018, the anniversary of the National Trails System Act.

We encourage sharing adventures using the hashtags: #FindYourTrail, #FindYourOrnament, #USCapitolChristmasTree and #ItsAllYours

For more information on Willamette National Forest trails where ornaments have been hidden, https://go.usa.gov/xQyCN

For more information: Capitol Christmas Tree website, capitolchristmastree.com

To get involved: email the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree email

Ornament Hunt Media Contact: Becca Barnhart, Willamette Valley Visitors Association

 


 

 

 

Trail of the Month: Pyramids Trail

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

 

Are you in search of a challenging hike with beautiful views? Check out the Trail of the Month on the Sweet Home Ranger District, the Pyramids Trail (#3380). The trail is located to the north of Santiam Pass and can be accessed by either a north or south trailhead. Learn more here.

The southern option is the easiest and most commonly used trailhead. On the south end, the trail offers stunning views of a large rock face before switch-backing up the Southern Pyramid eventually leading to a summit on the Middle Pyramid. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Central Oregon! Wildflowers will be abundant beginning in June. 

 

 

 

 

This is a multi-use trail, so you may encounter hikers, mountain bikers or horses. Remember to use proper trail etiquette and share the trail!

 

 





 

 

West Coast Dream Team Will Transport the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Sweet Home, OR., May 9, 2018 – A trifecta of transportation partners will see that the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree safely makes its way from Oregon to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the 2018 holiday season. An annual gift to the nation, this year’s tree will come from the Willamette National Forest with support from nonprofit Choose Outdoors and Travel Oregon. This is the first time the tree has come from the Willamette and the second time from the state.

The tree will be cut on the Sweet Home Ranger District in early November and prepared for the 3,000-mile expedition. The coast-to-coast journey will trace the Oregon Trail in reverse and include a series of community celebrations throughout Oregon and across the U.S. The journey will culminate with the official tree lighting on the West Lawn in early December.

Eugene-based Papé Kenworth is the presenting sponsor of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. Founded in 1938, Papé is a fourth-generation, family-owned business with more than 90 locations and 2,700 employee members. Papé serves the capital equipment needs of the trucking, construction, forestry, agriculture, warehousing, and material handling industries throughout the West.

“We are thrilled to help bring the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program to life,” said Susie Papé, Board Chair of The Papé Group Inc. Dave Laird, President of Papé Kenworth added, “We look forward to being a part of this annual year-long celebration and sharing a piece of Oregon heritage with the nation.”

Central Oregon Truck Company (COTC) of Redmond will haul the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. For the past five years, drivers have nominated COTC as Best Fleets to Drive For®, for providing the best workplace experience. It also won the competition for the 2018 Best Fleets to Drive For - Best Overall Fleet for Small Carrier and have been named to the Top 20 in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 competitions. COTC was designated one of the 2018 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon and 2015 Top Workplaces. CEO Rick Williams and longtime partner Phil Taylor will drive much of the way, with plans to include some tenured drivers for special legs of the trip.

“It is an honor to be selected to carry the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree and to represent the great state of Oregon during the tree’s journey to Washington D.C.,” said Rick Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Central Oregon Truck Company. “Hauling this precious cargo and the joy it brings to Americans across the country will certainly be one of the most memorable loads of lifetime.”

Kenworth Truck Company is a fifth-year sponsor of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree program. A specially-decaled Kenworth truck will transport the 54th U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.

“Kenworth is proud to once again play a part of delivering the ‘People’s Tree’ to our nation’s Capitol,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth Marketing Director. “The cross-country tour offers the opportunity for people to see this national symbol of celebration, and a Kenworth is the right truck for this important job.”

Additional transportation partners include SkyBitz, Truckload Carriers Association, Pilot Flying J Travel Centers, Hale Trailer, Eaton and Permit Wizard, in addition to local and national partners including Alaska Airlines, Axis Crane, Eugene Emeralds Baseball Club, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association.

“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout Oregon and beyond state lines,” said Bruce Ward, President of Choose Outdoors, non-profit partner of the U.S. Forest Service. “We’re grateful for the time and resources these invaluable partners are providing to help make this the best tour to date.”

For related news, events and tour information, and to track the tree cross-country, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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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!