Cutting the People’s Tree

Editor’s Note: The following is a speech that Pete Tallmadge delivered on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour when it visited Troy, Montana.

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Photo: Patricia Ulum Dye

When Kirsten Kaiser, the Three Rivers District Ranger, called and asked if I would consider being the sawyer for the 2017 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, I just about said no. To tell you the truth, I immediately thought of three or four other sawyers that she should call instead.

As loggers, the majority of us love our work because of the solitude it affords. Limelight is uncomfortable.

Personally, I prefer the predictability of the average, mundane day. I love my job and I love it’s routine. All of this is slightly out of routine, wouldn’t you say?

Fortunately though, Kirsten’s call came as a voicemail and I had the chance to discuss this unexpected opportunity with my family before giving her an answer. The consensus was a resounding “yes, you have to do it,” so I called her and accepted the invitation.

To tell you the truth, I really didn’t anticipate the level of hoopla surrounding the cutting. I mean it’s just one tree, right? But as I’ve walked out the events of the last week it’s become very clear that it’s about more than just a tree.

It’s about opportunity…its about pride…its about our timber heritage…and our community.

I have been given the opportunity to not only represent myself and my family, I’ve been given the chance to represent the timber industry, this community, and the great state of Montana.

We have been given the privilege of providing the “People’s Tree” to the rest of the country.

This tree is a gift from you…this tree is a gift from us…this tree is a gift to everyone who calls the United States of America home.

Now I realize it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but let me be the first to say…”Merry Christmas.”

Kootenai National Forest | 2017 US Capitol Christmas Tree from Choose Outdoors on Vimeo.


  1. Fritz and Dorothy Fiala says:

    I would like to find out if Kirsten was able to get the tree blessed after it passed thru Browns Valley, MN. Fritz and Dorothy Fiala visited with Kirsten for a short while before it left the Valley and I gave Kirsten a small bottle of Holy Water and asked if she would be able to have it blessed before reaching DC.
    If possible, would Kirsten send us an E-Mail about this. We could also send a nice picture of Kirsten and Dorothy. Thank you, Fritz and Dorothy Fiala.

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