FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 02, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as the People’s Tree, is being lit today thanks to people like Jim Scheff. He harvested the towering 88-foot-tall white spruce from the Chippewa National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Scheff won the Logger of the Year Award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Inc. (SFI) Minnesota Implementation Committee.
The People’s Tree is chosen every year by the U.S. Forest Service. It is a powerful symbol of the relationship between the American people and the land. The tree stopped in 30 communities en route to the Capitol in time for the start of the Christmas season.
School kids, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and adults all had a chance to see the Christmas tree and take part in Christmas craft workshops. The tour was also a chance to tell the SFI story about the integral role sustainable forest management plays in maintaining healthy forests and providing wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and thriving communities.
An SFI Implementation Committee from Minnesota will also place two ornaments on the Capitol Christmas tree today to celebrate the warmth and good will of the holiday season. The ornaments will mark the contribution sustainable forestry makes to communities across America. SFI Implementation Committees across North America bring people together to work for the future of forests.
Professional loggers like Scheff are a big part of sustainable forestry. They are using and influencing best management practices aimed at protecting water and other key parts of the forest environment. Scheff is a member of the Minnesota Logger Education Program and a Minnesota Certified Master Logger. These two programs provide the training and certification needed to meet the requirements in the SFI Standard for Qualified Logging Professionals and Certified Logging Professionals.
SFI’s logger training requirements and support of programs like Minnesota Logger Education Program help to ensure loggers have the training needed for safe, productive and environmentally responsible timber harvesting. In 2013, more than 7,500 loggers and resource professionals took part in SFIsponsored training aimed at continuous improvement.
“We were honored to be a part of this annual Christmas tradition. Keeping America’s forests as healthy, sustainable working forests is a gift that generations to come will enjoy,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc.
About The Capitol Christmas Tree
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or The People’s Tree, began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide The People’s Tree. This national forest also works with state forests to provide companion trees that are smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.
Vice President of Forest Policy
Minnesota Forest Industries