BRUCETON MILLS, W.Va. (WBOY) — With this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas celebration theme being “Endlessly Wild and Wonderful,” a number of smaller trees will be distributed throughout Washington D.C. and Joint Base Andrew. All of these trees will be provided by 84 Lumber and Jim Rockis of Bruceton Mills, WV.
Jim Rockis took an interest in quantitative genetics back in the early 90s with help from late WVU professor, Frank Cech. Since Cech passed back in 2009, Rockis has carried out the knowledge and skill needed to produce genetically superior trees, more specifically the Canaan Fir tree.
“There’s a lot of things that folks don’t know about in our state of West Virginia that we’re doing with forestry, we’re doing with horticulture and I kind of look at myself as combining the two. What we do and is kind of neat, we’re supplying a lot of the seed that goes to high growers in Michigan, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts and even North Carolina,” Rockis said in an interview with 12 News.
The most popularly recognized Christmas tree is the Frasier Fir, though Rockis said that it’s rather difficult to grow. This encouraged Rockis’ experimentation of the Canaan Fir, a tree native of West Virginia, which he has developed to resemble a Frasier Fir yet with a better “shelf life.”
Every year right before the holiday season, the U.S. Capitol selects a national forest from which it will pick its Christmas tree. This year, the Capitol has chosen the Monongahela National Forest, from which a 63-foot-tall Norway Spruce will be harvested to sit in front of the U.S. Capitol this December.
Rockis and 84 Lumber are working together to deliver a 25-foot Canaan Fir that Rockis selected himself to the federal USDA building in Washington, D.C. as well.
“I’m very honored to participate in this to show what we do here, particularly with forestry, agriculture, horticulture, particularly in the private sector of West Virginia. We’re very excited to share with the nation what we’re doing up here, and how we’re developing genetically superior trees,” said Rockis.
Rockis’ trees and the Norway Spruce of the Monongahela National Forest will be on tour throughout the state of West Virginia for the public to see before making the 1,000-mile journey to Washington, D.C.
Rockis hopes to be in D.C. whenever the trees arrive and he hopes to encourage the youth by sharing his own story.