Each year, a Christmas tree for the White House is selected from U.S. Forest Service land. The location of the specific forest selected to donate the tree changes each year, and the past several years have seen trees harvested from Oregon and New Mexico. For 2020, the tree is coming from Colorado, and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) has been asked to select the tree — or rather trees.
One tree is harvested for outdoor display at the nation’s capital, while other trees are selected for indoor holiday display — for the Secretary of Agriculture and other U.S. officials to enjoy.
The GMUG trees will be cut in late November. Hand-picked by the GMUG timber crew, the chosen trees will receive the approval of the forest rangers and representatives from Washington, who will be on site. Typically, the trees make a tour of the U.S. with stops on the way to the White House. That part may or may not happen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions.
Bernice White, of Norwood, who works for the U.S. Forest Service Norwood Ranger District, has a hand in helping this year. She’s a volunteer for the ornament portion of the Christmas tree honors.
As tradition holds, the forest selected to produce the annual trees also submits a collection of ornaments to showcase what that particular forest has to offer. White is helping to collect 10,000 local ornaments from the GMUG district that will travel to the White House, too, which are being handcrafted by various groups in the local area.
Terri Snyder Lamers, part of a fifth-generation ranching family in Norwood, is making 150 wool ornaments to represent sheep. Last weekend, Lamers, who is also president of the Colorado Woolgrowers Association, had an ornament-making party to help get her part finished by the Sept. 10 deadline.
Jessica Bicknase, also of Norwood and who has a scrapbooking and crafting business, organized the painting of pie plates, and Sarah Snyder Holguin, whose husband is a wildlife biologist with Norwood Ranger District, is creating firefly ornaments. Tammy Gillaspy, of Nucla, made numerous ski ornaments with her Wednesday night crafting group. Norwood’s Katie Alexander, who owns and operates The Coach’s Mother, created eight large tree skirts for the submission that are “huge and absolutely beautiful,” said White.
“The decorations we are doing depict what is happening on our side of the state,” White said. “Sheep, and we have lots of other groups that have helped, skis and gold pans, gold nuggets, fly fishing lures. Some kids made dinosaurs.”
White said the ornaments must not be political or religious in nature. She said there’s also a careful process with specific instructions for getting the ornaments to the White House.
She said the people of Norwood — all those in the GMUG forest — will be able to see pictures of the trees in Washington D.C. this holiday season. She said the White House will also have a tree lighting ceremony that will appear on the news.