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65 foot White Fir heads to State Capitol for Holiday Season

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WHITMORE, Calif. - Crews with the California Department of General Services (DGS) officially cut down the Christmas tree for the state Monday in eastern Shasta County.

This is the sixth time a tree has been selected from the Latour Demonstration State Forest near Whitmore. While standing the White fir was estimated at 80 feet tall, then shortened to 65 feet to meet the requirements at the capitol.

Supervising Grounds Keeper for DGS, Lisa Paisley said the department used to get their tree from Camino in El Dorado County before switching to the Latour Forest.

"The selection was dwindling so we got an opportunity to come up here and look at their trees and needless to say we'll be coming back for a long time," said Paisley.

The department personally picks the tree each year after crews from CAL FIRE help to narrow down the selection. Through the years the cutting of the tree has turned into an event with bagpipes, family and friends.

Latour Assistant Manager Jed Washburn brought his wife and kids to the cutting of the tree. He said, "My wife came up with my father probably the first year they did it. And they did it over the rock pit and then every since then they just kind of been coming up hanging out a day in the woods."

This year's tree was smaller compared to the tree selected in 2016. Crews said while it was beautiful it pushed them to the limit. "The problem we had - it looked beautiful at the capitol, the size was beautiful - it is transport. It has to fit under the over passes," said Paisley.

The event was scheduled months in advance which can be tricky given the uncertainty of the weather in the Northstate during November. But crews said this year was perfect, with a break in the snowy weather.

When asked why the Latour Demonstration State Forest has become the spot for the state, Manager Jason Poburko said the area is heavily rooted in Christmas Trees.

"They used this ground to sell a lot of Christmas trees. I think its because of the low growing season up here. They just grow a little bit every year and because of that we just get really good form factor up here with our Christmas trees," said Poburko.

The tree will officially leave the Redding area Tuesday, taking the long journey down Interstate-5 to Sacramento. There it will be decorated with 10,000 LED lights along with ornament created by children and adults with development disabilities.

It will be unveiled during a special lighting ceremony with Governor Jerry Brown and the first lady on December 7 at 5 p.m.

For 2018, Poburko would like to take a more proactive approach and work with DGS to select trees for several years in the future. That way they can preassign and culture trees into the perfect display and protect them.

The Latour Demonstration State Forest was created in 1946 when the State Lands Commission deeded the property to the California Division of Forestry. The forest has an active commercial timber sell program and helps to practice and demonstrate sustainable forestry methods for mediuim and small land owners.

In the summer and fall, forest roads are open to the public. In the winter CAL FIRE sells permits for the public to cut their own Christmas tree. Those cost $10 and can be bought at the CAL FIRE Shasta-Trinity headquarters on Cypress Avenue in Redding.

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