Colorado tree selected for Christmas at US Capitol

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado tree has been selected to move to the U.S. Capitol Building to be displayed over the Christmas holiday, a U.S. Forest official said Monday.

The acting regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, Jennifer Eberlien, said in a conference call that included Colorado Gov. Jared Polis that a Capitol architect will make the official announcement in a few days.

The Christmas tree will make its way from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests to the West Lawn of the Capitol Building, where it will be decorated and displayed, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported.

The tree’s specific location is expected to be withheld until fall for security purposes. It will be cut down some time in autumn.

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The tree is expected to be 65 to 80 feet (20 to 24 meters) tall. Polis said that the tree will likely be an Engelmann spruce.

“Colorado is proud to contribute part of our natural beauty to the United States Capitol in Washington,” Polis said.

The coronavirus pandemic is complicating some of the pageantry the tree is usually afforded, officials said. The winning tree is usually cut down in a public event, but this year’s ceremony is uncertain.

The plan is also to have the tree displayed on a public tour on its way from Colorado to the Capitol. The tour is still scheduled, but forest spokesperson Kim Phillips said “we don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like.”

Colorado has reported 44,565 cases of the coronavirus, with the number of new reported cases rising in each of the last six weeks. The virus has killed 1,668 people in the state.

The Capitol tree program started in 1964. Colorado has provided three trees since then. The most recent selection happened in 2012, when a tree was selected from the White River National Forest in western Colorado.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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