Back in November, a 79-foot Engelmann spruce from the Kootenai National Forest was cut down and hauled to Washington, D.C. to be the Capitol Christmas tree.
Now the tree will be hauled back to Montana and the wood will be used, in part, to rebuild Glacier National Park’s Sperry Chalet, which was gutted by the Sprague Fire last summer, leaving just the stone shell of the main dormitory.
It’s a multi-faceted effort by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the nonprofit Choose Outdoors organization, F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber, SmartLam and the Washington Companies.
The tree was adorned with a 5-foot, 90-pound copper star that came from Montana and was going to be returned to the state anyway, so for an additional and nominal fee, Choose Outdoors was able to secure having the logs from the Christmas tree returned as well, said Chuck Ward, president of the Colorado-based organization that lobbies to get children outdoors.
Choose Outdoors has worked with the Forest Service for several years to have Christmas trees from the west shipped to the Capitol for Christmas trees, Ward noted.
The tree will likely begin its journey back to Columbia Falls sometime next week. Paul McKenzie, land a resource manager at Stoltze, said the company will cut in the tree into dimension lumber and then SmartLam will make a feature for the chalet.
Ward said he’d also like to see portions of the tree that can’t be made into lumber used for other projects, like medallions for groups like the local Boy or Girl Scouts.