Tree’s journey begins Nov. 6 in Meeker

Members of the Meeker High School National Honor Society and FCCLA help Mary Cunningham Gillespie, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, attach hangers, individually wrap and box more than 5,000 ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree and the 70 accompanying trees, coming from the White River National Forest.

Gillespie has been traveling around western Colorado visiting schools and attending festivals gathering ornaments (three examples pictured) and an article about the project will be published in a special section of the Nov. 1 issue of the Herald Times, along with other stories and photos about Colorado’s gift to the nation.

MEEKER I Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, Scott Tipton, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman and Ed Perlmutter welcomed the kick-off to the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree’s journey from Colorado to Washington, D.C.
The “People’s Tree,” a 73-inch Engleman Spruce, will be cut from the White River National Forest’s Blanco Ranger District near Meeker, Colo., on Nov. 2, and will make its way to the nation’s capitol via stops in Colorado and around the country.
“I’m thrilled that Colorado’s White River National Forest was selected to gift a tree from Colorado to the nation. Our state’s open spaces, outdoor recreation and tourism industry are key parts of what makes Colorado such a special place to live and work. This tree will be a symbol of what makes Colorado a great state,” Udall said. “It also is a visible reminder of the challenges facing our forests — from a widespread beetle epidemic to the most severe wildfire season in recent memory — and the work we have ahead of us to ensure their health.”
This is a unique opportunity for Rio Blanco County to highlight Colorado’s great outdoors and natural resources, while also underscoring the importance of keeping our state’s forests healthy and instituting good forest-management practices to mitigate wildfire danger. The past summer was one of our state’s toughest droughts and most severe fire seasons. One of the partners for the project, Choose Outdoors, will raise funds during the tour for restoration efforts for the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires.
The nationwide celebration starts in Meeker on Nov. 6. The tree will be delivered to the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 26 and decorated with 5,000 homemade ornaments from Coloradans before its lighting in December.

Colorado Tour
Nov. 6: Meeker | Rangely | Steamboat Spgs.
Nov. 7: Dillon | Glenwood Springs
Nov. 8: Grand Junction | Montrose
Nov. 9: Cortez | Durango
Nov. 10: Pagosa Springs | Alamosa
Nov. 11: Colorado Springs | Denver
Nov. 12: Greeley | La Junta
For more information on the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and related events — including a song and art contest and plans for its Washington, D.C. arrival — visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.

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