Capitol Christmas Tree harvested from Northstate forest


WHITMORE, Calif. - The official Christmas Tree for California is cut and ready for the long trip down I-5 to Sacramento.

Crews with the Department of General Services harvested the white fir Monday from the Latour Demonstration State Forest in Eastern Shasta County.

CAL FIRE Forestry Assistant Nochella Ozard said the forest was honored to have the state tree picked from their property.

Latour is one of eight state forests operated by CAL FIRE. "It's definitely really fun and a great feeling for us to be able to be a part of that and supply that for the state," said Ozard.

This is the fifth tree to be cut from the Latour State Forest and used as the official Christmas Tree at the state Capitol.

Forest crews selected a handful of potential Christmas Trees throughout the year and officials made the final pick in September.

Building Manager for the State Capitol Grounds Les Strike said when picking the perfect tree they look for fullness and proper size.

"Put it in the ground, it usually stands about 53 feet. It has to accommodate 10,000 LED lights along with many decorations that we put on the tree," said Strike.

Before cutting the tree, crews prepped the trunk by pruning all the lower branches and attaching it to a large crane.

CAL FIRE has also added their own tradition by serenading the crew with bagpipes to mark the occasion.

Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Dale Wylson started the tradition with the first tree cut from the Latour State Forest.

"It's kind of the trees final call here in the forest but it's also for the crew, they enjoy it and it's something we've done. It's a little way to give back to them and something a little different as well," said Wylson.

The cutting process is slow, taking about a day to prevent any damage, that way the tree looks just as nice on the capitol lawn as it did in the forest.

"This tree, from my opinion, is one of the finest we've ever selected. It's a very, very healthy forest and it's just a joy to come up here and work with CALFIRE," said Strike.

After the tree was cut, crews lowered it onto the truck and tied it down for the long haul to Sacramento. Ozard said she looked forward to seeing the tree once again in its new home for the holidays.

"It's always fun going down to Sacramento once it's up and lighted and everything and seeing that. We saw it when it's growing and now we get to see it all put up," said Ozard.

The tree will leave Redding Tuesday morning and arrive at the state capitol around 11 a.m. and placed on the west lawn.

Over the next couple of weeks, crews will continue to trim the tree and hang the ornaments, each one created by kids and adults with developmental disabilities.

Once complete the tree will finally have its big night on December 5 when Governor Brown and the first lady hold the official Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.