Western Colorado will have the distinct honor of providing the nation’s Christmas tree for the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building next December.
“This is a great honor. We will provide our nation’s capital with a large seventy-foot tree for the West Lawn as well as some companion trees for the other federal buildings in the area,” Chad Stewart, forest manager for Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests, announced the morning of Nov. 22 in Delta.
Stewart was joined at the podium by Dana Gardunio, Ouray District ranger; Marti Whitmore, Choose Outdoors; Cindy Dozier, president of Club 20 and Betsy Bair, Regional Director for Senator Cory Gardner.
The yet to be chosen tree from the Western Slope will be the fourth tree from Colorado to make the nearly 2,000-mile trek to Washington D.C. next year. This year’s tree from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico is currently on its way to Washington.
“Our tree is a gift from not only the Forest Service but from Colorado so, I encourage all Coloradoans to engage in this and help us celebrate this great event,” Stewart said.
Dana Gardunio detailed the timeline for the Christmas tree for U.S.D.A Forest Service employees, partners, stakeholders, elected officials and dignitaries in the audience.
The yearlong event will begin with making over 10,000 ornaments for the main tree and companion trees. This spring, the Forest Service will select 15 to 20 candidate trees to be reviewed in the summer by the Architect of the Capitol for final selection. An official tree-cutting ceremony will take place next November followed by an extensive whistle-stop tour throughout Colorado before heading to Washington, D.C.
“The tree will be officially lit by the Speaker of the House and will sit on the West Lawn of the Capitol from the first week of December through January second,” Gardunio said.
In the spirit of sharing the stewardship of providing the nation’s Christmas tree, GMUG is partnering with Choose Outdoors, a Colorado based non-profit.
Marti Whitmore, spokesperson, said the organization will assist Colorado and the National Forest Service with all aspects of the event including fundraising, ornament making and the whistle-stop tour from Western Colorado to the nation’s capital.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests manage approximately three million acres of land in Southwest Colorado within Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Saguache, San Juan and San Miguel counties.