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.

 

 

 

Call for large ornaments

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

 

We hope to create 2,000 additional large ornaments as part of our larger goal of sending 10,000 ornaments to D.C. this year. All Oregon residents are invited to create and submit ornaments directly to us or to attend an upcoming ornament making event. 

Make your own: large ornaments should be 9-12 inches, reflective and colorful, lightweight and waterproof. They cannot include any logos.  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! All ornaments must be received by October 1 and 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. 

 

Stop by an ornament making event: 
Oregon Jamboree - August 3-5, Deschutes Brewery Park Stage (Friday 2-7 p.m.; Saturday, 1-7 p.m.; Sunday 1-6 p.m.) (tickets required)
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 (tickets required)
Harvest Fest - October 13 from 10AM - 2PM Sankey Park, Sweet Home

 

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.


 

 

 

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.

   

 

You're invited: Christmas in July at the Ballpark

Thursday, June 28, 2018

We’re less than six months away from Christmas and that’s a great reason to celebrate.

Join us on Wednesday, July 25 for a special Christmas-themed night at the ballpark with the Eugene Emeralds presented by Husqvarna. Players will wear special ugly sweater game night jerseys and Smokey Bear will throw out the first pitch. While there, create an ornament to help towards our goal of colleting 10,000 ornaments for the big tree and companion trees, purchase U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and Ems merchandise, have a chance to bid on ugly sweater jerseys auctioned off via silent auction during the game, with funds helping support the project, and more. Wednesday nights are “kids eat free” nights at the ballpark, so it’s a fun night for the whole family! Visit the Eugene Emeralds website to buy tickets to the Ems game vs. the Volcanoes.

Additionally, Willamette National Forest Service staff will be onsite at the Corvallis Knights baseball game the same night hosting ornament making. Wear your favorite ugly Sweater and stay after for a holiday- themed movie post-game. Visit the Corvallis Knights website to buy tickets to the Knights game vs. the Kelowna Falcons.

Santa, Smokey and all of us with the U.S. Forest Service and Choose Outdoors hope to see you there!

 

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. 


 

Catch the big one during National Fishing and Boating Week

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

 

Free fishing weekend kicked off National Fishing and Boating Week, a national celebration that highlights the importance of recreational boating and fishing. This year's event takes place June 2-10.

Fishing and boating offer great ways to connect with family and friends, de-stress, and enjoy the great outdoors. Residents and visitors to the state of Oregon are fortunate to be able to experience both freshwater and saltwater, and the Willamette National Forest itself is home to lakes, ponds, streams and rivers, plus access to both motorized and non-motorized boats. This combination offers excellent fishing of steelhead, bass, chinook and kokanee salmon, and many kinds of trout.

Another key benefit of fishing and boating: participation actually helps fund efforts to conserve our natural waterways. A portion of all fishing tackle and license sales, as well as boat supply and registration sales, fund the conservation and preservation of our nation's waterways through a program called the Sport Fish Restoration Program. This means that every time you purchase a fishing license or register a boat, you are helping improve the natural places you love. (Credit: Takemefishing.org)

Get outside, enjoy the water and do good during this national celebration - and all summer long.

Resources:
Oregon Department of Fishing & Wildlife (fishing licenses and regulations)
Oregon State Marine Board (boating regulations and safety)
Take Me Fishing- Oregon

Willamette National Forest:
Lake & Pond Fishing Areas
River & Stream Fishing Areas
Boating – Motorized
Boating – Non-motorized

 

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