These Colorado Christmas Trees Want To Go To Washington In 2020 Too

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
The U.S. Capitol Tree arrives at the western lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 25, 2019. The 60 ft. Blue Spruce comes from Carson National Forest.

Finding the perfect Christmas tree for your living room is hard enough.

Now imagine finding one that is 60 feet tall, 20 feet wide, has that perfect conical shape and looks good from every angle. That’s the challenge that Jim Kaufmann, the director of the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum, and the U.S. Forest Service face every year when they look for a tree that will stand in front of the U.S. Capitol building. 

Kaufmann said it’s like “finding a needle in a haystack.”

The 2019 Capitol Tree — a 60-foot Blue Spruce — just arrived from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico Monday, complete with police escort. 

But planning for next year’s tree is already underway. And Colorado will provide the 2020 Capitol Tree.

Every year, the Forest Service rotates where the tree will come from among its 10 different regions.

“We kind of share the opportunity to get to do that.” said Ricardo Martinez, deputy district ranger of Carson National Forest. “The southwestern region has had it four times. And Region 2, the region where Colorado sits — next year, this will be the 4th time Colorado provides a Christmas tree.”

The U.S. Forest Service has announced the tree will come from either the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre or Gunnison national forests. Local rangers will identity about a dozen candidate trees, and then Kaufmann will visit those trees next summer. 

“Usually by the end of the week I’ll have it narrowed down to the final selection and that’s when the real work starts to get going,” Kaufmann said. 

The “real work” involves figuring out how the tree’s going to be cut and then transported thousands of miles to Washington, D.C.

And like the people of New Mexico, Coloradans will also get the opportunity to provide ornaments for the tree. This year’s decorations will involve thousands of LED lights and handmade ornaments made out of recycled materials from the Land of Enchantment.

This isn’t the first time a Colorado tree has gone to Washington. In 2012, an Engelmann Spruce was chosen from White River National Forest. In 2000, a Colorado Blue Spruce was selected from Pike National Forest, and in 1990, an Engelmann Spruce came from Routt National Forest. 

The U.S. Forest Service has been providing a tree for the Capitol building since 1970.