USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

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Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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News Releases - 2011

U.S. Forest Service Arboretum Provides California State Capitol Christmas Tree

Pacific Southwest Research Station/USDA Forest Service
Science that makes a difference. . .

Contact: Sherri Eng, PSW Research Station Public Affairs,; (510) 559-6327

PLACERVILLE, Calif. —Past and present employees from the USDA Forest Service’s Institute of Forest Genetics will reminisce about the tiny seedling they watched grow into a 60-foot tree when Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. lights the 80th Annual California State Capitol Christmas Tree on Dec. 7 in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Part of the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) and located in Placerville, the Institute has donated a white fir to the state for the past 13 years.

Since 1998, state employees have collected Christmas trees from a stand of about 3,000 trees that Forest Service employees planted in the mid-1960s at the Institute’s four-acre Camino Arboretum . The arboretum was one of four sites Forest Service scientists established in 1965 to study the hardiness of trees grown from white fir seeds collected from as far away as Michigan. The research included studying the effectiveness of planting trees in different arrangements to increase productivity. About 2,000 trees remain.

“The purpose of this 1965 white fir plantation was to gain important information about the physiographic and elevational effects on the growth and survival of white fir trees,” says Roger Stutts, a retired Forest Service employee who worked for the Institute for more than 40 years and helped plant some of the original seedlings. “Who could have known that these beautiful, mature trees would someday provide a testament to nature’s beauty when chosen for the California State Capitol Christmas Tree.”

State employees started eyeing the arboretum as a Christmas tree source over a decade ago due to its close proximity to Sacramento and its accessibility. A large crane is necessary to handle the tree during cutting. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) transported this year’s tree to the State Capitol on Nov. 15. The tree will be decorated with 900 hand-crafted ornaments created by children and adults with developmental disabilities who receive services and support from the state’s development centers and 21 nonprofit regional centers. It will be illuminated by 10,000 ultra-low wattage LED lights.

The Institute of Forest Genetics was originally founded in 1925 by James G. Eddy, a Northwest lumberman who financed the world’s first institute dedicated to forest genetics.  PSW has operated the Institute since 1935. It serves as the premier location for USDA Forest Service research in the areas of forest genetics and biology. The Institute was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1987.

Headquartered in Albany, Calif., the Pacific Southwest Research develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has laboratories and research centers in California, Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. For more information, visit

Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 09:44:38 AM