Meet Colorado’s Own Mr. Christmas Tree [PICTURES]
Each year, the Colorado State Forest Service cuts the State Capitol Holiday Tree and smaller trees that end up on the Colorado State University campus. One man in particular plays an especially large role. Meet Colorado’s own “Mr. Christmas Tree,” Mike Hughes. Starting in the late 1990s, Hughes became the main forester responsible for providing the holiday trees delivered to the state capitol each December.
About Colorado's Mr. Christmas Tree
Hughes, assistant district forester with the CSFS Fort Collins District, has been with the agency for 25 years. He brought early experience from forestry jobs in New Mexico, Idaho and Missouri, and holds a master’s in forest products from the University of Idaho.
He is the Tree Farm Program administrator for the state of Colorado – a designation held by only one forester in each state – and in his career has planted more than 100,000 CSFS nursery-grown seedling trees for conservation purposes, mostly as windbreaks and shelterbelts on Colorado’s northeastern plains. He also is a qualified wildland firefighter, having had roles in the High Park Fire and other major fires in northern Colorado.
Gold Star Tree of Honor
This year’s State Capitol Holiday Tree, which Hughes cut and delivered, is themed the "Gold Star Tree of Honor." The 50-year-old, 25-foot subalpine fir, harvested on State Trust Land in northern Larimer County, pays tribute to the more than 350 Colorado military service members lost since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families. Colorado National Guard soldiers decorated the tree, and on Friday, December 11, Gov. John Hickenlooper dedicated the tree at a formal lighting ceremony in the capitol’s North Foyer. This is the the fifth year in a row that the capitol tree has been provided by the CSFS Collins District.