Judge won't be Grinch for capitol Christmas

MISSOULA, Montana (Reuters) - Congress will get its Christmas tree this year after all.

U.S. District Judge James Singleton has clarified an earlier ruling that the U.S. Forest Service said had prevented it from cutting down the tree selected as the Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol building.

In his clarification, Singleton said his initial ruling applied to major forest projects and that the Forest Service's sweeping interpretation of the ruling was misguided.

In response to the initial ruling, U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth suspended nearly 1,500 activities in national forests and stopped issuing permits for hunting guides, mushroom pickers and firewood collectors.

Bosworth also pulled the permit to harvest the so-called Capitol holiday tree, an 80-foot tall Engelmann spruce in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico.

Singleton's clarification clears the way for the cutting of the tree on November 7.

"The Capitol holiday tree is going to be cut on schedule," Forest Service spokeswoman Heidi Valetkevitch said.

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