Photo Credit: Digital Commons


The Klamath River Basin has made national news in recent weeks with the harvesting of Sugar Bear, an enormous white fir from Six Rivers National Forest. The tree was chosen to serve as the capital’s Christmas tree this holiday season and is currently on tour across the United States. As long as Sugar Bear stays on schedule, the tree will arrive in Washington D.C. on November 19th where it will be erected and decorated in preparation for the traditional lighting ceremony in early December.

Sugar Bear was harvested on October 23rd after a ceremony where several speakers, including Del Norte fifth-grader and imminent youth tree-lighter Michael Marvis, spoke about the importance of the tree and the tradition of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree being provided by the National Forest Service. Cheryl Moon of the Bear River Band Rohnerville Rancheria blessed Sugar Bear before it was loaded onto its truck. This is the 51st year that the National Forest has performed this seasonal duty.

Getting Sugar Bear all the way to Capitol Hill from the Trinity River watershed will be quite the ordeal! After being felled, the tree was carefully wrapped in green tarpaulins with custom viewing windows for sightseers, equipped with an enormous water sack to ensure its freshness on arrival, and strapped to an extended truck trailer. Once prepared for transit, Sugar Bear began its pilgrimage from the forests of Northwestern California to the nation’s capital.

En route, Sugar Bear will wind its way through many of the nation’s states, stopping at several locations to allow interested parties the opportunity to give Sugar Bear a closer look. During the tour Sugar Bear will be escorted by regional law enforcement lending the precession an even more officious feel. If you find yourself slowed in traffic due to an enormous, green-wrapped something on the back of a very long flat-bed trailer, being escorted by law enforcement officials, you may be near this nation’s official Christmas Tree!

Once Sugar Bear arrives in Washington D.C. it will be put in a custom stand on the West Front Lawn of Capitol Hill and decorated with ornaments. Sugar Bear will not be covered in your standard tinsel and lights: handmade ornaments have been made by hundreds of children in each state. Sugar Bear will be decorated with the help of a crane!

Sugar Bear is an excellent example of how Klamath River Basin communities affect and interact with the rest of the nation. It is an important and powerful symbol of the region’s diverse landscapes and ecosystems. We can expect it to bring joy to many during its trip across the continent and while it lights up the night during holiday season.