Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting

The 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree, cut from the Kootenai National Forest, is seen on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington in December.

ANDREW HARNIK, Associated Press

Now that Washington, D.C., is done with Christmas, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., would like Montana's tree back.

A 79-foot Englemann spruce from the Kootenai National Forest served as this year's Capitol Christmas tree. As far as Tester is concerned, its usefulness shouldn't end there.

Efforts "are underway to rebuild the Sperry Chalet, and I can think of no better use for some of the Montana lumber in our Capitol Christmas tree to assist in that endeavor,” Tester wrote to Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers on Monday. “I’d like to see this tree go home to Big Sky Country, where it can continue giving to the people to whom our public lands belong.”

The Sperry Chalet dormitory burned down during last fall’s Sprague fire in Glacier National Park. Tester said donations from the Washington Companies, SmartLam and F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. would pay for shipping the tree back to Columbia Falls, where the Stoltze lumber mill could saw it up.

Pete Tallmadge of Yaak cut down the spruce tree on the Three Rivers Ranger District in the Kootenai National Forest. It was trucked 3,000 miles to the nation's capital. 

The tree would otherwise have been chipped into compost and spread on the U.S. Capitol lawn, according to Tester’s staff.

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