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Sugar Bear, the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, leaves its NorCal home and heads east | Bartell's Backroads

Moving a 5-ton, 85-foot-tall tree nearly 4,000 miles is no easy task but the U.S. Forest Service pulled off a little holiday magic deep in the woods of California.

WILLOW CREEK, Calif. — There’s no shortage of Christmas trees in the Six Rivers National Forest

With more than 974,000 acres of mountainous land stretching from the Oregon border to Mendocino County, it's full of pine, fur, cedar and redwood trees. The only problem? Getting that Christmas tree out of the forest, especially if it’s a large tree.

This year, the Six Rivers National Forest was chosen to provide the Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The one they chose was an 84-foot-tall white fir. 

Forester Jeff Jones found the tree and named it Sugar Bear. 

“We’ve been working on this since January,” Jones said.

Before the tree can be delivered to our nation’s capital, a team of people have to work together to cut it down, and that’s a precarious process. 

Patrick Dublin, who's been an arborist for 13 years, says you can't simply saw into the tree and let it fall because when it hits the ground it will break all of the branches. So, Dublin must climb the tree and attach it to a crane that will hold it in place. 

“I am going to do my best not to break any [branches]. Hopefully, there is an angel floating down to sling this thing up, and it's going to D.C.,” Dublin said.

The tradition of choosing the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree started in 1964. The first one was planted, but after wind and root damage killed it, the Capitol Architect started choosing different national forests to supply the tree.

U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Samantha Reho says there are more than 150 national forests in the United States, so it’s a pretty big deal that this year the Capitol Architect chose the Six River National Forest.

“In its 51-year history, this is the fifth time that California was chosen to provide the People's Tree,” Reho said.

At the base of the tree, Brandon Banwall is the man tasked with actually cutting, and since it's not falling over, the cut will be a little easier. 

“We are going to do a relief cut to start then another to follow through,” Banwall said. “There is a potential the tree will move around a bit, but that’s when I jump out of the way and the crane takes over.”

With the tree cut, forester Jeff Smith can count the growth rings and get a more accurate measure of its age. He estimates Sugar Bear is 38 years old.

Once the tree is suspended in the air, the challenge is to get this 10,000 pound tree turned sideways and put on the trailer. Once secured to the trailer, the work doesn’t stop. 

Truck driver Mike English must maneuver the tree down the narrow forest service roads using a special trailer. 

“This back axle actually pivots," English said. "There is a guy behind us with a remote control that will actually steer as you go around the corner."

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree has a long journey ahead of it. Over the next three weeks, it will travel around 4,000 miles and make 19 stops in California and towns along the way to Washington, D.C. When the tree is finally set up at the U.S. Capitol, Michael Mavris will be there to play his part. 

“It will be amazing to think that I will get to light this tree,” Mavris said. 

The Crescent City fifth grader won an essay contest earning him a trip to D.C. to light the tree. 

“I spent almost as many hours researching as I did writing it," Marvis said.

There is no shortage of Christmas trees in the Six Rivers National Forest, but it takes a team of Californians to get it to the U.S. Capitol for the entire nation to see.

Watch more from ABC10

U.S. Capitol official Christmas tree passing through Sacramento