Capital Christmas Tree Transportation

A big to do in Arizona this month as the U.S. Capital Christmas tree was chopped down from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest , along with 80 companion trees, to head to our nation’s capital. The giant 85 foot Blue Spruce is taller than a six story building.

The Apache National Forest was first founded based on a conservation effort by Aldo Leopold 100 years ago. “Leopold was considered a pioneer in the conservation of natural resources. So it’s also fitting that this year will mark the first time the tree has been transported in a vehicle running on the alternative fuel biodiesel.” (writes Brian Straight, managing editor of Fleet Owner Magazine).

Seriously, no matter how you spin it, chopping down an 85 foot tree, estimated at being over 70 years old and 80 other trees is hardly considered, “conservation” in my brain. But wait, there is more…

The tractor pulling the tree itself is a 1991 Mack with a red, white and blue color scheme. Also, a 2001 Peterbilt will be hauling a second load. The tree itself will travel on a Fontaine flat bed stretch trailer with an insertable deck. The trailer will extended to its full 80-ft. length and the total travel length of the vehicle will 102 ft.

The Peterbilt will haul a 53-ft. Utility Trailer van. Both trucks will make stops in Flagstaff, Show Low, Springerville, and Window Rock, AR, and Gallup, NM. Along the stops, 6,000 ornaments and 80 “companion trees,” which will be displayed around the Capitol Tree, will be added to the convoy. These trucks will get approximately 4 to 6 miles per gallon.

The total trip will take about 24 days, a 10 day tour around the state of Arizona and another 2 weeks to travel to the Capital in Washington and will cover about 4000 miles. A route that will visit cities throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland. Let’s see, that’s 4000 miles at, we’ll call it 6 mpg, that’s a bit over 1300 gallons of fuel for both trucks to reach the capital.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for tradition, and it is nice for the state of Arizona to donate such a beautiful 85 foot Blue Spruce tree for the Capital Christmas tree. It’s going to look magnificent. However, (you were waiting for that word, weren’t you) I can’t see where the word “conservation” comes into play. It takes a lot of fuel, equipment, manpower and pre-planning by many folks to make this all happen. The cost of the entire operation is expected to reach about $200,000, the bulk of that will be covered by cash and in-kind donations.

I can only hope that when the tree gets to it’s destination that it will still be The Capital Christmas Tree and not The Capital Holiday Tree.

You agree?

Down the Road – Mike


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