It’s been quite a run for Northwest Christmas trees at the nation’s capital.
Last year, the Payette National Forest supplied an 80-foot Englemann spruce from McCall, Idaho, for the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree. This year, the Kootenai National Forest in Western Montana will provide the tree for the west lawn of the capital.
Forest Service officials are starting the festivities early. There’s a Saturday kickoff event from noon to 4 p.m. in Eureka, Montana, at the Eureka Middle School gym. Families can make handmade ornaments for the future Christmas tree.
“An imperative step is choosing the best tree specimen to represent Montana,” the Forest Service said Thursday in a press release.
The Capitol tree must be between 60 and 85 feet tall, and it must be growing in a spot accessible to a crane and semi-truck. Suggestions from the public are being accepted by Sandi Mason at the Kootenai National Forest, (406) 830-5837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting last year’s tree to Washington, D.C., cost more than $600,000, according to a McClatchy News story. Most of the transportation costs are paid by corporate sponsors. The tree made more than 30 stops for community celebrations along the route.
In 2013, the Colville National Forest in Northeast Washington sent an 88-foot tall Englemann spruce to the U.S. Capitol.