“People’s Tree” To Make Historic Journey from Alaska to Washington D.C.
As the nation’s Christmas tree makes its way from Alaska to Wash., D.C. it will stop in Missoula on November 8, 2015. Music, cross-cut saw demonstrations and free nature-themed activities are planned from 2 to 4 p.m. outdoors in the Cabela’s parking lot, 3650 Brooks Street. Smokey Bear will be there to greet everyone. The event is organized by the Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and Cabela’s.
Visitors are encouraged to sign the banner that accompanies the nation’s Christmas tree on its trek to Wash. D.C.
Christmas tree permits will be on sale for $5 at the event. Each permit allows a person to harvest a fresh pine tree from National Forest System lands for the 2015 season. Over the past decade, Northern Region forests in north Idaho and Montana have issued an annual average of 18,563 Christmas tree permits.
“We are very excited to welcome the tree to Missoula and celebrate its journey with the community,” said Mary Mitsos, National Forest Foundation Interim President.
For more than 50 years, a tree harvested from the U.S. Forest Service lands has graced the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol during the holiday season. This year the Capitol Christmas Tree comes from Alaska’s Chugach National Forest. The 74’ Lutz Spruce is the first U.S. Capitol Christmas tree to come from Alaska and also the first tree to be transported partially by sea. The Forest, in partnership with nonprofit Choose Outdoors, will bring this special gift to Washington, D.C. for the 2015 season, with stops at 15 communities along the way. Missoula is one of those communities.
The tree was cut Oct. 27 near Seward, Alaska and prepared for the 4,000-mile expedition by land and sea. With great fanfare, the tree left the Chugach National Forest followed by a caravan of caretakers for the journey to the U.S. Capitol. 15 community celebrations are being planned throughout the tour, culminating with the official tree lighting in early December. Smaller companion trees also will be provided by the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association to decorate offices inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other sites throughout Washington, D.C., along with 4,000 ornaments designed and created by artists and school children across Alaska.
Associated costs are paid for in part by the U.S. Forest Service, while costs for the tree’s transportation and special events are covered by in-kind services, donations and overall support both locally and nationwide, including major 2015 supporters Shell, Alaska Airlines, Skybitz, Alaska Railroad, Alaska Crane, Granite Construction Company, ReThink Wood, Truckload Carriers Association, TOTE Maritime Alaska, Hale Trailer, Kenworth Truck Company and more.
Trees are chosen from public lands managed by the Forest Service. The Bitterroot National Forest supplied a subalpine fir for the nation’s tree in 2008. The honor of providing the Capitol Christmas Tree will return to a forest in the Northern Region in 2017.
To track the tree as it makes its way cross-country, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com and on Facebook @ USCapitolChristmasTree (#chugach2015 and #capitolchristmastree).
Locally a fresh tree is still the choice for many homes. Every holiday season national forests nationwide offer permits to the public. For a nominal fee, families and individuals make the annual trek to their local District Ranger’s office to purchase a permit, followed by a family outing or afternoon hike to find that perfect specimen for their holiday memories. Revenues from permits are returned to the US Treasury.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land; provides assistance to state and private landowners; and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. For more information, see www.fs.fed.us.
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About Choose Outdoors:
Choose Outdoors is a coalition for outdoor recreation comprised of people and organizations who are passionate about outdoor recreation, support public lands, waters, and the agencies charged with their care. www.chooseoutdoors.org.
About the National Forest Foundation
Founded in1993, the congressionally-chartered National Forest Foundation works to conserve, restore and enhance America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System. Through community-based strategies and public-private partnerships, the NFF has accomplished over 1,500 distinct stewardship projects that have enhanced wildlife habitat, revitalized wildfire-damaged landscapes, restored watersheds, and improved recreational resources for the benefit of all Americans. Through these projects, we have planted over 4.3 million trees, improved over 117,000 acres of habitat, completed over 10,500 miles of trail work, and engaged over 120,000 volunteers. To learn more, visit us at http://www.nationalforests.org.
About Chugach National Forest
Established in 1907, the Chugach National Forest is the northernmost national forest. The Forest’s 5.4 million acres form a great arc around Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska that stretches more than 200 miles from the Kenai Peninsula past the remote and wild Copper River Delta. Just 50 miles south of Anchorage, the Chugach National Forest serves as the backyard to more than half of Alaska’s population. The Forest’s 48,000 acres of lakes and 18,000 miles of streams produce more than 66 million salmon a year and host the largest recreation fisheries for Chinook, Sockeye and Coho salmon, and rainbow trout in the state. The Forest is a place with vast recreational opportunities where distinctive cultures, customs, and ways of life connect. A unique convergence of long-held traditions of stewardship continue by the first nations of Alaska, including the Chugach, Eyak, Ahtna, and Dena’ina Athabascan. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/chugach.