Christmas tree for US Capitol on way from Calif.

By the Associated Press | November 5, 2011 | 7:20 PM EDT

In this photo supplied by the Stanislaus National Forest, Mark Patton cuts a white fir tree Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, from the Stanislaus National Forest near Sonora, Calif. The 65-foot tree is about to meet a glorious end as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree. The tradition of "The People's Tree" began in 1964, and the job of providing it rotates among national forests. This year, the Stanislaus National Forest was chosen to provide the tree, marking the fourth time the Capitol tree will come from California. It will be decorated by 5,000 ornaments handmade by Californians. House Speaker John Boehner will light it along with a child from California on Dec. 6. Come January, when the tree has served its purpose, it will be ground into mulch and spread across the Capitol gardens. (AP Photo/Stanislaus National Forest, Jerry Snyder)

SONORA, Calif. (AP) — A 65-foot white fir tree selected as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree was cut down and removed from a picturesque setting in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Saturday, then loaded on a truck for a 4,500-mile journey from Northern California to Washington, D.C.

When crews arrived at the tree Saturday morning they found it covered in snow, said Jeff Crider, a spokesman for U.S Capitol Christmas Tree Tour, a nonprofit project overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.

"It was 18 degrees, with four inches of snow," Crider said. "It's freezing up here and getting ready to snow again."

The Stanislaus National Forest tree was selected based on its shape and fullness and color, officials said.

Work crews will box it up on Sunday, with a portion encased in Plexiglas so that people can view it during its upcoming nationwide tour. A bladder bag attached to its base will be filled with water on a daily basis to keep the tree fresh, Crider said.

The tree is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 28, with a lighting ceremony at the front of the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 6.

It will be decorated by 5,000 ornaments handmade by California residents, and House Speaker John Boehner and a child from California will light it.