Capitol Hill will look a bit like Montana for Christmas of '08

U.S. Capitol Tree will come from Bitterroot National Forest

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – It may be nearly two years away, but Montana's Bitterroot National Forest is already getting ready for Christmas of 2008.

Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Congressman Denny Rehberg today announced that the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will come from the Bitterroot National Forest for the 2008 holiday season.

The Speaker of the House will light the tree shortly after Thanksgiving of next year.  In addition to the main, 70-foot tree, Montana will provide about 65 smaller trees to other agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Architect of the U.S. Capitol recently contacted the Bitterroot National Forest to ask employees to start scouting "candidate trees" that have the right size, shape and color.  The main tree will most likely be a fir or a spruce.

The Architect will visit western Montana in the summer of 2008 to personally choose the tree.  After it's cut down in October, a specially designed truck will haul it to Washington, D.C., after stopping in several Montana cities along the way.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell said the Christmas trees will showcase not only Montana's natural beauty, but also the creativity and power of community of its residents.  That's because the trees will feature as many as 5,000 handmade ornaments from Montana—most of them will be made by children as part of a statewide project.

"I'm so pleased that Montana, in partnership with the Bitterroot National Forest will provide the Capitol Christmas tree in 2008," Kimbell said.  "It will be wonderful to see a reflection of Montana in our Nation's Capitol."

Montana has provided the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree once before, in 1989.  That tree came from the Kootenai National Forest in northwestern Montana.