ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - An evergreen tree from Alaska will serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree next year - a holiday first for the state.
Schoolchildren around Alaska will make thousands of ornaments for the tree and for smaller trees in Washington, D.C., government offices, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The 60 to- 85-foot tree will come from the Chugach National Forest in south-central Alaska, the Alaska Dispatch News reported (https://is.gd/Tcs5n7).
The tradition of placing a Christmas tree on the west lawn of the Capitol began in 1964. A different national Forest has been selected each year since 1970 to provide a tree.
The Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota provided the 2014 tree, which made appearances all over that state and the Midwest before arriving at its destination.
In Alaska, the Forest Service will work with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to schedule events across Alaska, the agency said.
In a Forest Service press release, Murkowski is quoted as saying, “Countless Alaskans have cut down their own Christmas tree from the Chugach over the years, and I’m glad that the U.S. Capitol is following suit, allowing us to spotlight this tremendous resource we have at our fingertips.”
The Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska was selected in 1995 to provide the trees for the Capitol and the White House for the 1998 holiday season.
The Alaska Legislature, however, objected as a protest against the environmental policies of the Clinton administration. State lawmakers during the 1997 session said President Clinton was responsible for a steep decline in the region’s logging industry and the subsequent job losses.
Lawmakers adopted a resolution stating their opposition to the selection of Tongass trees. The resolution stated, “What should be an honor is instead an affront as it carries the message that careful harvesting of our trees is acceptable to decorate the nation’s Capitol and the halls of Congress, yet not acceptable to provide jobs for the people of Southeast Alaska.”
Lawmakers also requested that the Clinton administration pick another state for the trees and the resolution was also presented to the U.S. Senate as a petition.
The Tongass is federal land, so the state had no authority to prevent the trees from being removed. The Forest Service, however, ultimately decided to take the trees instead from the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com
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