TRINITY COUNTY, Calif. — After months of searching, this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has been chosen, and it is coming from Northern California’s Six Rivers National Forest.
The 84-foot-tall white fir is located in the Mad River Ranger District, and its nickname is “Sugar Bear.” Jeff Jones is the forester who found the tree. It was one of six trees he presented to the U.S. Capitol Architect.
“You want it to be conical, even crowned all the way around, the branches all the way around,” said Jones.
The tradition of choosing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree started in 1964. The first Christmas tree was planted, but after wind and root damage killed it, the Capitol Architect started choosing different national forests to cut the tree from.
There’re more than 150 national forests in the United states, so it’s a pretty big deal that this year the Capitol Architect chose Jeff Jones and the Six River National Forest to provide the tree.
“I was a little intimidated because what if you don’t find it? Then it’s all on me,” Jones said.
There’s no shortage of Christmas trees in the Six Rivers National forest. The problem is getting the Christmas tree out. There’s more than 974,000 acres of mountainous land stretching from the Oregon border to Mendocino County, and running through its many canyons are six rivers the Smith, Klamath, Trinity, Van Duzen, Eel and the Mad rivers.
Jones had to find candidate trees to cut down and also had to make sure a truck could haul it out. The tree’s height had to be between 65 and 85 feet tall, and the trunk had to be between 24 and 30 inches. “Sugar Bear,” the tree that they will place on the capital lawn, meets the requirements and will be cut down in October.
Once the tree is loaded on the truck, it will go on a multi-day tour through California cities and eventually cross the nation to the U.S. Capitol for the annual tree lighting ceremony in December, where all of Jones' hard work will be on display.
“It will be sitting out on the U.S. Capitol lawn, and everyone can view it - 360-degree angle - so it’s got to be good no matter which way you are looking at it,” Jones said.
You can learn more about the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, its location and how to participate to make ornaments for the tree HERE.