In search for Capitol Christmas tree, Questa blue spruce pick of the litter

Photo courtesy Carson National Forest

The Carson National Forest was selected to hunt down the tree that will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol in December. Bernie Ross, forester from the Tres Piedras Ranger District, shows Jim Kaufmann, director of the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum, the area around the Questa Ranger District where the "People's Tree" was chosen.

When the Carson National Forest got word that the U.S. Christmas tree for 2019 would come from the forest around Questa, the news kicked off a search for the perfect tree to ship off to the nation's capital.

The tree, a 60-foot-tall blue spruce, Picea pungens, from the Questa Ranger District, was recently selected by Jim Kaufmann, director of the U.S. Capitol Grounds and Arboretum.

A rock star "selection team" of eight U.S. Forest Service employees looked at hundreds of trees in the Questa Ranger District. They narrowed the choices down to 12 candidate trees, from which Kaufmann chose the winner.

While the Forest Service did not release a picture of the tree, Carson National Forest spokesperson Denise Ottaviano assured The Taos News it has "a perfectly conical shape that is visually pleasing from all angles," one of the original criterion from the higher-ups in Washington, D.C.

Other requirements was that the tree "have a straight stem, uniform branching, natural density and good rich color," and that it be located "preferably close to a road that will allow for crane and semi-truck access."

The "People's Tree" will be displayed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. There will be a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December.

A contingent of Questa representatives plan to travel to the Capitol for the ceremonies.

"The selected tree is a true gem that all New Mexicans will be proud of," said Questa District Ranger Jack Lewis.

The anticipated harvest date is Nov. 6, Ottaviano said.

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