DOINews: NPS: Cultivating a Living Memorial at Flight 93

Last edited 09/05/2019

Volunteers Find Your Park while planting at Flight 93
Volunteers find their park while planting seedlings at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Photo by NPS.
Volunteers Preparing to plant in the rain
Volunteers prepare the plant in the rain at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Photo by NPS.
Father and daughter planting at Flight 93 National Memorial
A father and daughter plant seedlings at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Photo by NPS.
Flight 93 NM Invasive Plant Management Team Collage (2)
Teams of volunteers focus on removing invasive species at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Photo by NPS.
Autumn Olive No More (1)
A volunteer removes an invasive Autumn Olive tree at Flight 93 National Memorial. Photo by NPS.
Planted seeding creates a living memorial to the Passengers and Crew of Flight 93
A planted seeding creates a living memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93. Photo by NPS.

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flight 93 National Memorial, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, the National Park Foundation, and their partners kicked off National Park Week and the Find Your Park Campaign with the fourth annual Plant a Tree at Flight 93 reforestation event, April 17-18, 2015. The memorial's architect envisioned the 2,200 acres that make up the site as an entire memorial landscape and a place of renewal. Reclaiming the land after decades of surface mining left much of it in open grassland. In 2012, the memorial and its partners began a multi-year effort to reintroduce trees to this landscape, reestablishing woodland habitats and windbreaks, and creating a living memorial.

Plant a Tree at Flight 93-2015 served as the memorial's kickoff event for the Find Your Park Campaign and the Centennial. Encouraged to see their work as part of a long-range effort to cultivate a living memorial for visitors of today and into the next century, park rangers and partners invited volunteer planters to play an active role in cultivating a living memorial, to "find their park," and share their efforts. Volunteers energetically got to work, even though on the first day conditions were wet and muddy, and were enthusiastic to share their park with each other and to spread the word.

This year was the largest effort to date. More than 400 volunteers, including 126 volunteers 24 years old or younger, planted 22,000 seedlings over 32 acres. Since 2012, more than 2,000 volunteers have provided nearly 9,000 hours planting 70,000 seedlings across 105 acres. This was the first year the memorial deployed teams of volunteers to focus on invasive species removal, specifically Autumn Olive.

Plant a Tree also plays a major role in reintroducing the American Chestnut to Appalachia through a partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation. The memorial is the location of the single largest planting of restoration American Chestnut anywhere in North America, with 3,500 seedlings planted since 2012. Through this work at the memorial and other sites, the hope is to help the American Chestnut, nearly wiped out last century, to thrive in this next century.

Plant a Tree at Flight 93 is a labor of love and a resounding success due to amazing partnerships. The Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, the memorial's official nonprofit supporting partner, provided invaluable assistance by obtaining in-kind donations of supplies, administrative support, and providing volunteer planters. Other partners include the American Chestnut Foundation; Appalachian Regional Commission; Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative; Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service; Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement; Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Green Forests Work, Home Depot; REI; Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Penn State University Altoona; Penn State University DuBois; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation; and Starbucks, Somerset.

By: Brendan Wilson, acting chief of Interpretation at Flight 93 National Memorial, NPS

April 23, 2015

Related Links:

NPS-Plant a Tree at Flight 93

NPS-Flight 93 Facebook page

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