ELKINS, W.Va.– The Monongahela National Forest has been selected to provide the 2023 Christmas Tree for the U.S. capitol, kicking off a year-long celebration with the theme of “Endlessly Wild & Wonderful” to connect more Americans to West Virginia’s public lands.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, known as “The People’s Tree” reflecting the nickname for the U.S. House of Representatives, the People’s House, adorns the west lawn of the capitol and is selected each year from a different national forest.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said it was an honor to see West Virginia's largest national forest recognized in the nation's capitol.
"This shines a positive light on West Virginia, and I am thrilled in every way. I also want to acknowledge the Monongahela National Forest officials for their care of the forest. Without them, this would not have been possible. Congratulations to all involved," Justice said.
The Monongahela National Forest was the first to provide the People’s Tree on behalf of the Forest Service in 1970, and again in 1976. 2023 will be the third time West Virginia will have the distinction.
Senator Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he was glad to see West Virginia taking center stage nationally.
“The Capitol Christmas Tree is a wonderful, historical tradition that brings our great country together during the holidays. I am thrilled that the 2023 tree will be from West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest,” Manchin said.
“The 2023 Capitol Christmas Tree will represent the wild and wonderful nature of the Mountain State—including our remarkable forestry and wildlife—for the first time since 1976. I’m grateful to the Forest Service for their hard work and partnership on this event, and I look forward to celebrating this honor with my fellow West Virginians and Americans.”
The forest service has partnered with the non-profit Choose Outdoors to assist in the creation of a year-long conservation education campaign about the multi-use mission of the Forest Service in support of a multi-stop tour in November that will take the selected tree around West Virginia and surrounding states before delivering it to the Architect of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The initiative is made possible with support from the presenting sponsor, 84 Lumber, cash and in-kind contributions from large and small companies, along with vital support from volunteers locally and across America.
“The annual journey is only possible with the help of strong partnerships throughout West Virginia and beyond state lines,” said Bruce Ward, president of Choose Outdoors.
“We’re proud to welcome 84 Lumber back as presenting sponsor for the second year. We look forward to bringing people together to celebrate our public lands, our diversity and the joy of the holiday season.
National Forest supervisor Shawn Cochran said forest officials are honored to provide the tree from the vast and complex forest, which covers much of the eastern Mountain State.
“It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to celebrate the diverse and complex natural ecosystems and cultural heritage that thrive here in central Appalachia," Cochran said.
"[The] Monongahela National Forest and West Virginia really are endlessly wild and wonderful, and we are excited to share these special places over the next year on a national level, reaching both residents and folks who may have never experienced our home among the hills," Cochran said.
Follow the journey of the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and be a part of the festivities at www.uscapitolchristmastree.com, @uscapitolchristmastree on Instagram, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USCapitolChristmasTree, or the Monongahela National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/mnf and https://www.facebook.com/MonongahelaNF.