When it comes to selecting a Christmas tree for the Governor’s Mansion in Juneau, foresters are spoiled for choice. That’s because they have the entire Tongass National Forest to choose from.
Adam Tlachac is a federal forester for the Wrangell Ranger District charged with picking out the tree.
“Uh this one’s too wide, this one’s too narrow, not quite full enough,” he remembers saying to himself. “This one’s just right.”
It’s the second year that the state sourced its tree from the Tongass National Forest. And again it’s coming from Wrangell Island. The project is called the Woocheen project.
“Woocheen is a Tlingit word for working together, so this is a partnership effort,” says Recreation Director Tori Hauser. She says the idea is to make Governor-elect Mike Dunleavy feel welcome next month when he relocates to the capital city in Southeast Alaska.
“It’s our new Governor. He’s moving into his new house. So he surely wants to spruce it up with a beautiful tree from Wrangell,” Hauser says.
“Spruce” it up? Tlachac jokes. But it’s a pine tree!
Local kiddos are helping too. Elementary and Headstart students made ornaments using all natural wood. The plan is to fell the tree the day after Thanksgiving. It’ll be a blessed by the local tribe The Wrangell Cooperative Association on Sunday.
Then the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Liberty will run it up to Juneau. It should be in place by Tuesday the 27th.
And what kind of tree did Tlachac pick for the governor?
A ten-foot tall pinus contorta, commonly known as a shore pine or lodgepole pine. It’s native to Southeast and thrives in harsh, wet muskeg. Tlachac says it’s not really used for timber, but it makes great Christmas trees because it’s dense and retains its needles beautifully.
The public will have a chance to see the tree during the annual governor’s Holiday Open House.
That’ll be from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 11.