U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Each year, a different national park provides the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. (Photo by Tanya Flores, USDA Office of Communications.)

The annual lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, known affectionately as the “People’s Tree,” is an honored tradition of more than 50 years. In fact, the “People’s Tree” dates back to 1964 when Architect of the Capitol J. George Stewart, at the suggestion of the Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, established the yearly tradition of decorating a tree on the West Front Lawn.

So where does the tree come from? Since 1970, the USDA Forest Service has provided the trees. Each year a different national forest is invited to provide “The People’s Tree” to celebrate the holidays. The Forest Service also works with state forests to provide smaller companion trees for offices in Washington, D.C.

This year, the tree was a gift from the Questa Ranger District on the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. This is the fourth U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to come from the Southwestern Region of USDA Forest Service. Two were from New Mexico – an Engelmann Spruce from the Santa Fe NF in 2005 and a Blue Spruce from Carson NF in 1991. In 2009 an Engelmann Spruce came from the Apache-Sitgreaves NFs in Arizona.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Husqvarna is a sponsor of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. (Photo Credit: Husqvarna Twitter feed.)

Harvested on November 6, the massive 60-foot blue spruce was cut down with chainsaws from Husqvarna, a sponsor of the 2019 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and hoisted into the air by cranes provided by Wilbanks Trucking Services, LLC. The tree was then placed and secured onto a Kenworth W900 transport trailer provided by Hale Trailer and removed from the Carson National Forest to embark on a nationwide tour. The tree traveled over 2,000 miles and stopped for celebrations in 25 communities before arriving at the U.S. Capitol in late November. Today, the tree stands on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building and is decorated with thousands of handcrafted ornaments made by school children from the state of New Mexico.

The tree was lit December 4th by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi during a public tree lighting ceremony on the West Front Lawn. “This tree embodies the spirit of unity. It reminds us that even in a nation as diverse as the United States, we are one people,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

Not only is this year’s tree a beautiful Christmas gift to the nation, it is also a 75th birthday present to the world’s most recognized fire prevention hero, Smokey Bear. The real Smokey Bear, the badly burned cub who helped inform Americans on the importance of forest fire prevention, was found in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico after a forest fire in the late 1940s.

The tree will be lit from nightfall until 11 p.m. each evening through Jan. 1, 2020.



Oregon has announced the release of the SpeedCut Nano cutting system, the first .325” Low Profile cutting system designed to increase cutting speed and extend runtimes on battery-powered and compact light-weight gas chainsaws (20-38 cc).

The innovative cutting system features a new saw chain, guide bar, and sprocket to optimize the performance of chainsaws in the 1 to 3 HP range. The increased efficiency of the SpeedCut Nano cutting system also provides battery saw users with up to 20% more cuts on a single charge. For this power range, the SpeedCut Nano 80TXL saw chain provides greater productivity for landscape professionals.

“Through close feedback from professional users in the field, we identified an opportunity for an all-new cutting system. From this input, SpeedCut Nano was engineered from the ground up to meet the demands of arborists’ top-handle applications and property owners seeking top performance,” said Derek Vlcko, Global Business Segment Director – Forestry at Blount International. “With SpeedCut Nano, cutting efficiency is increased by as much as 20% in bucking and 90% in boring, ensuring no one will be left stalled in the cut.”

Other features of the SpeedCut Nano cutting system include:

  • Multi-axis grind technology for exceptionally clean cuts.
  • Low-kickback chain with all-weather durability.
  • A corresponding guide bar with high-strength body and performance-driven nose components.
  • Small-radius sprocket nose built to exact tolerances to buck, bore and trim efficiently.
  • LubriTec™ lubrication system to keep saw chain and the guide bar oiled, reducing friction and wear.

SpeedCut Nano 80TXL saw chain will be available for Husqvarna®, STIHL®, and ECHO® battery and gas applications starting in early summer of 2020.


Over 400 swamp white oaks are located in the 9/11 Memorial. Photo: Christine Menapace

Today marks the day when, 19 years ago, 2,977 people perished in four coordinated terrorist attacks. Now the 9/11 Memorial, located where the World Trade Center Towers once stood, uses the language of landscape and the healing power of nature to honor those victims lost so tragically. Designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker of PWP Landscape Architecture, the Memorial includes a dense forest of 416 swamp white oak trees that creates a sacred space for contemplation and remembrance. The Memorial grove resembles a “natural” forest, yet the trees also align to form arching corridors, recalling the arches that architect Minoru Yamasaki placed at the bottom of the original towers.

Working in collaboration with arborist Paul Cowie, PWP selected swamp white oaks because they’re considered more disease resistant than red or pin oaks, yet they provided the strength, longevity, and symbolic weight PWP was seeking.

Over 400 Swamp White Oaks


The oaks at their holding site before installation. Photo Credit: Bartlett

Before installing on site, the trees were cared for at a holding yard in Millstone Township, NJ leased from Halka Nurseries, where they adjusted to the local climate for three years. (Trees were sourced from six different nurseries in states where the attacks took place.) It was during this time, in 2006, that Bartlett Tree Experts entered the picture, meticulously pruning, irrigating, and fertilizing the trees to maintain optimal tree health and generate consistent canopies in form and height. In fact, a Bartlett technician was at the field tending the trees nearly every day for nine months of the year, and once a week in deep winter. The first 16 trees were planted at the Memorial in late August of 2010, making this year the 10th anniversary of their installation.

Since installation, Bartlett has provided the same ongoing care for the oak trees as they did in the holding yard. It includes preventatively treating for pests and diseases, monitoring soil quality, fertilizing, pruning, and more, says Wayne Dubin, who has been involved with the Memorial trees from the beginning and serves as a VP and Division Manager with Bartlett.

Have there been any pest or disease issues with the oaks? According to Dubin, spider mites are an issue on trees in the vicinity, so they carefully monitor for those as well as reaching out to neighboring property owners. Since swamp white oaks are susceptible to anthracnose, the trees are also monitored for that foliar disease. “A handful were having some difficulty,” reports Dubin, but says overall health is great.

Overall, the 415 trees have a team of Bartlett arborists that care for them, and each tree has its own record of care and observation. Charles King and Jeremy DeSimone are two of the main caretakers. With the trees located in a busy plaza, Dubin says DeSimone “works almost exclusively overnight… He’s become somewhat nocturnal.”

With a lifespan of 60 to 80 years, the swamp white oaks should be around for quite some time. “There’s every reason to believe they’re going to live a long, long time,” comments Dubin.


The Survivor Tree.

The Survivor Tree

Distinct from the forest of oaks is a unique and meaningful tree that is also being cared for under the watchful eye of Bartlett. Dubbed “The Survivor Tree,” it’s a Callery pear that was nearly dead after the World Trade Center attacks. With charred bark and many limbs reduced to stumps, it was removed from the site and nursed back to health by the NYC Parks Department while the 9/11 memorial was built. Now replanted at the Memorial, it stands as a “living symbol of resilience.”

But as anyone familiar with Callery—or its cultivar Bradford—can attest, these trees often have weak wood and branch structures that are susceptible to storm damage. When asked if this tree requires more care than the oaks, Dubin emphatically replies, “It does.” He explains, “Because we don’t want to leave it vulnerable to breakage, we’re constantly maintaining the size… not letting branches overextend. We treat it differently from other Bradford pears and prune it three or four times a year.” Support cables are also used for extra reinforcement and an eye is kept out for pear trellis rust. “We monitor like crazy,” says Dubin.

The Survivor Tree is doing very well, but with a species lifespan of 15 to 25 years, I can’t help but ask if there’s a long-term replacement plan. Dubin said he’s actually never been asked. “We’re carrying on blissfully, but still know that no tree lives forever. We’ll take every measure we can to preserve and prolong its life,” he comments.


Students from JBHS repot Survivor Tree seedlings. Photo Credit: Bartlett

A logical option may be found one day in the Seedling program. During the Survivor tree’s rehabilitation, scientists at Bartlett collected seeds and propagated 450 descendants. Now, each year, the 9/11 Memorial gives seedlings (collected annually) from the Survivor Tree to communities that have endured tragedy in recent years. The Survivor Tree Seedling Program was launched on September 11, 2013 in partnership with Bartlett and John Bowne High School in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. Last year’s recipients included Las Vegas, NV, (where a gunman killed 58 people at am 2017 Harvest Festival) and Pittsburgh, PA (where 11 people were shot and killed at a synagogue.)

“It’s an honor to be part of this,” Dubin says of the Memorial tree care. “It definitely stands alone as the most meaningful project in my time at Bartlett.”

Look for an upcoming article on tree fertilization from Bartlett in the Fall print edition of Turf magazine.


A fiery sky looms over field crew buses at the JFS Barlow Farm near Canby, OR. “Very smoky right now,” says Nancy Buley, JFS communications director, “but not dark like it was yesterday at our Canby farm about 20 miles south of Boring. Scary times.” Photo by Barlow Farm Manager Richard Lang.

We’ve all been hearing about the devastating fires rampaging through the West. And wholesale tree grower J. Frank Schmidt & Son.,Co, based in Boring, OR, has found themselves near the frontlines over the past week—though fortunately, a safe distance from the flames. Located in Clackamas County, their farms are among many nurseries alerted by the county to “Be Set” or  “Evacuate” from the Riverside Fire, one of the six largest fires in the state. The area is part of the Willamette Valley, the center of Oregon nursery production.

Turf was working on an article for our Fall issue with Nancy Buley, J. Frank Schmidt communications director, when the fires started. The article topic? Developing trees for changing climate conditions and extreme weather. The irony is not lost on us.

“The fires are as horrific and devastating as you have seen on the news. The air quality is horrible. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Boring right now is 516 (500 is top of the scale!). It’s very smoky and foggy, but at least the East Wind has died down and the humidity has risen so the fires are not spreading as rapidly. Such beautiful forests destroyed, lives lost, hundreds of homes, more than 40,000 people evacuated,” wrote Buley in an email last Thursday.

The majority of the fires are in California (25), Washington (16), Oregon (13) and Idaho (10), though blazes have also emerged in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, the National Interagency Fire Center said Sunday morning, according to CNN.

For a recent Turf article on landscaping to reduce fire risk, click here.


Fire-tinged skies and thick smoke cloud the view from the front door of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., wholesale tree growers in Boring, OR. Photo by Nancy Buley, JFS communications director.



Asian Long-Horned Beetle (ALB), an invasive wood-boring beetle that attacks 12 types of hardwood trees in North America, was found for the first time in Charleston County in South Carolina this summer, with infestations discovered in 1,950 trees. “Just this past June, we confirmed a new infestation in South Carolina after a homeowner reported that they found a dead Asian longhorned beetle on their property,” said Josie Ryan, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Operations Manager for the ALB Eradication Program. “We need the public’s help to find new areas where the beetle has spread, because finding it sooner means less trees will become infested.”

ALB attacks trees including: ash, birch, elm, golden raintree, London planetree/sycamore, maple, horsechestnut, katsura, mimosa, mountain ash, poplar, and willow. In its larval stage, the insect feeds inside tree trunks and branches during the colder months. The beetle creates tunnels as it feeds, then it chews its way out as an adult in the warmer months. Infested trees do not recover and eventually die. Infested trees can also become safety hazards since branches can drop and trees can fall over, especially during storms.

ALB Eradication

Fortunately, it’s possible to eradicate the pest with proper measures. Presently, there are active eradication programs operating in three states: New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, as well as a response to the new infestation found in South Carolina. Thus far, the USDA and its partners have declared Brooklyn and Queens in New York free of ALB. The insect has also been eradicated from areas in Illinois, New Jersey, Boston, Massachusetts, other portions of New York, and portions of Ohio.

Unfortunately, the insecticide Imidacloprid is not effective against the larval stages of ALB that spend most of their time inside the heartwood of the tree. As a result, all infested trees must be completely removed. Even treated trees are removed and destroyed if they are later found to be infested.

Instead, insecticide treatments are used only on trees NOT known to be infested as a preventative. The insecticide is applied through either tree trunk or soil injections. According to APHIS, Imidacloprid can be effective when applied in the spring, early summer, or fall—prior adult emergence or when adults are feeding and laying eggs. It takes one to three weeks by trunk injection and up to three months by soil injection for Imidacloprid to distribute throughout the tree, depending on the tree’s size and health, and weather conditions. Once an area is identified for treatments, it is ideal to treat all host trees within that area to optimize effectiveness.

What To Look For

The beetle has distinctive markings that are easy to recognize:

  • Black and white antennae that are longer than the insect’s body.
  • A shiny black body with white spots that is about 1” to 1 ½” long.
  • Six legs and feet that can appear bluish-colored.

Exit holes.

Signs that a tree might be infested include:

  • Round exit holes in tree trunks and branches about the size of a dime or smaller.
  • Shallow oval or round scars in the bark where the adult beetle chewed an egg site.
  • Sawdust-like material called frass, laying on the ground around the tree or in the branches.
  • Dead branches or limbs falling from an otherwise healthy-looking tree.


It’s important landscapers follow state and federal laws, which restrict the movement of woody material, to keep the tree-killing pest from spreading outside of known infested areas. This includes firewood, which cannot move out of areas that are quarantined for ALB without a permit. “As people use firewood… we are also asking them to buy heat-treated and certified wood rather than move untreated firewood long distances, which can potentially spread ALB,” warned Ryan. “You can also responsibly gather firewood where you will burn it or buy it in the area where you will use it.”

ALB is not harmful to people or pets. If possible, landscapers should take pictures and capture suspicious insects in a durable container and freeze them, which helps preserve the insect for identification. Insect or tree damage can be reported by calling the ALB hotline at 1-866-702-9938 or reporting here. In South Carolina, you can report the beetle or tree damage by calling Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry at 864-646-2140 or by emailing

Keep an eye out for a special section on Trees in the Fall edition of Turf magazine. You’ll find tips from Husqvarna on felling a tree; grower J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.’s take on trees to withstand changing climate conditions; and fall fertilization advice from the experts at Bartlett. In the meantime, visit Turf’s Tree Services® page for more articles.

On December 26, 2004, the Sumatra– Andaman quake burst a 900-mile geological fault with a force 1,500 times the force of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, developing tsunami waves reaching 80 to 100 feet, as well as killing more than 227,989 individuals in 14 countries. Within an issue of mins, it turned into one of the deadliest natural disasters in human background. The sudden destruction prompted a globally humanitarian reaction. Nations worldwide provided more than $14 billion in help. While federal governments vowed considerable funds, public feedback overtook the government action in both size as well as speed. This unprecedented and also historic reaction showed the world’s unity, capacity, as well as will to react to sudden catastrophe. Yet suppose a catastrophe isn’t unexpected? What happens if it relocates slowly? What happens if it looms but not immediate? According to Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard, human brains aren’t wired to react well to huge, slow-moving dangers. Basically, it can be a struggle to comprehend as well as

analyze slow-burning and also abstract problems. We have the power and capability but appear to do not have the unity and also will to avoid disastrous results if they approach slowly. And that’s a trouble. It affects just how we view problems like environment modification, pandemics, and also metabolic conditions. Emerald ash borer(EAB) can be added to this checklist. This insect epidemic impacting ash trees was found in Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, in 2002.

It is a slow-moving natural disaster. While many individuals experience a visceral reaction to the wildfires in Brazil, Australia, as well as California because the risk is immediate, visible, and strongly harmful, EAB silently presents perhaps the solitary greatest hazard to North America’s tree canopy. Attack on the Tree Dominating Urban Landscapes Ash trees are among one of the most useful and bountiful North American woodland trees. It is approximated that 7 billion to 9 billion grow in the United States alone. In metropolitan locations, ash has been just one of the nation’s most prominent trees for growing along roads and also in parks. When Dutch elm disease annihilated huge numbers of our

nation’s most stylish road trees, ash was frequently the tree of option for its substitute as a result of its rapid development and also capacity to hold up against extreme urban environments. In numerous neighborhoods, as much as 40 %of the trees are ash varieties or cultivars. After EAB gets here in a region, 99%or more of all ash trees die within eight to 10 years. It has ruined 40 million ash trees in Michigan alone as well as

10s of millions throughout various other states and also Canada. And even though EAB devastation is usually terrible and also complete, areas often delay action until the expenses of addressing the problem become too high. A Problem That Can not Be Ignored So, exactly how do we short-circuit our propensity to neglect slow-moving threats? The Arbor Day Foundation has invested years dealing with areas throughout the nation and also has created a version that our company believe is valuable. When EAB reached the Foundation’s house state of Nebraska, we dealt with a local funder– the Peter Kiewit Foundation. They accepted a three-year challenge give amounting to$300,000 to leverage additional contributions to a fund for EAB Recovery Grants. These grants are readily available to areas within the program location to cover prices for tree planting efforts as well as occasions that raise EAB recognition as well as recuperation.

The aggressive healing initiative promotes growing a variety of trees to produce a more varied and resistant tree cover in getting involved communities.”(The funds)sustain the emerald ash borer tree recuperation program in parts of western Iowa as well as across Nebraska,”said Kiewit Foundation Community Investment Officer Paul Ternes.”We such as the program not only because it can operate in several areas but also since it’s a version that prepares neighborhoods for the following time they deal with such a dilemma.

“Kiewit Foundation funds have actually been matched by the Iowa West Foundation as well as individual private donors. During 2020, the EAB Recovery Grants program held numerous tree planting occasions in Nebraska and western Iowa communities, improving the Arbor Day Foundation’s effective Community Tree Recovery program. Since the program’s creation in 2012, the Arbor Day Foundation has held greater than 775 recovery occasions throughout the country and also dispersed more than 5 million trees. As the tidal waves in 2004 instructed us, individuals can typically react faster and also generously than federal governments. However federal governments can make recuperation programs more efficient. The EAB Recovery Grants program creates a reason for local governments to start preparing their EAB response currently rather than waiting until the situation and also its connected

costs become overwhelming. For more information concerning emerald ash borer, go to