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Capitol Christmas tree comes from Wyoming



JACKSON, Wyo. - When your Christmas tree is 67 feet tall, it's not just a matter of tossing it into the back of a pickup truck or strapping it down to a Thule ski rack.

Especially when it's a 2,100-mile drive, as is the case for this year's tree at the United States Capitol.

The tree, an Engelmann spruce, was felled just outside Grand Teton National Park and then loaded onto an 81-foot trailer outfitted with a wooden cradle to keep the tree secure.

The truck driver tells the Jackson Hole News&Guide that towing such a long bed has its challenges.

"There's a lot of the curves that we won't be able to make," says Jeff Underwood. To get the truck around tight curves, cranes will have to be deployed.

In what surely must cause some heartburn in fervently Republican Wyoming, the tree will be lit on Nov. 29 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A U.S. Forest Service employee in Jackson Hole had had her eye on the tree for several years. Photos in the newspaper show a tree in the perfect shape of a cone. Alas, the employee died recently - although not before learning that her project was going to see fruition.

As for the tree, it was 87 at the time of its felling, still relatively young for an Engelmann spruce. The trees in Wyoming and Colorado live 500 to 600 years.


Just how much digging for bones will there be?

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. - With the snowstorms now almost a daily occurrence, the mucking around in the peat and silt near Snowmass Village has mostly ended for the winter - begging the question of just how much more digging will occur next year?

More than 200 bones of now-extinct species have been removed in the month after a bulldozer operator enlarging a reservoir scraped against what was originally thought to be a cow's skeleton.

Instead, a veritable museum of Ice Age megafauna emerged as crews began digging in the mud: bones of two Columbian mammoths, five mastodons, and three bison of a type that was twice as large as today's bison, plus a ground sloth and a small type of deer.

Many of the species are believed to be from 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, a time when glaciers from the last great advance of ice still hung from high mountain valleys in Colorado.

But the oldest bones found at Snowmass are much older than the last ice age, anywhere from 43,000 to 120,000 years old, according to Dr. Kirk Johnson, chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.