Veterans’ Groups, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Conservationists Join Forces To Save Native Trees at Flight 93 National Memorial

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Date: April 9, 2015
Contact: MaryEllen Snyder, 724-329-8131

Shanksville, PA –During National Park Week, on Saturday April 17 and 18, National Park Service staff, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial and Park volunteers will work side by side to remove the invasive shrub Autumn Olive that is threatening the survival of the thousands of native trees planted at Flight 93 National Memorial. During the volunteer event, each day 35 volunteers, supervised by exotic plant management specialists will remove the invasive shrubs in the recently reforested areas of the Memorial along the entrance road.

A variety of groups are helping with this project including members of the Southern Laurel Highlands Invasive Plant Management Partnership, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, staff from Ohiopyle State Park, staff from Fayette County Soil Conservation District, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Marcellus Shale Coalition Land Affairs,AmeriCorps, VFW Post 3368, and members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Superintendent Stephen M. Clark shared, "This is just the beginning of a long term effort to remove exotic plants from the Memorial Landscape, and we sincerely appreciate the assistance that is being provided by our Friends, partners, and most importantly the park volunteers who will find their park by removing invasive plants at Flight 93 National Memorial."

The staff and volunteers hope to remove hundreds of invasive, non-native Autumn Olive plants in and around the 20 acre area originally planted during reforestation to increase the survival rate of the native trees that have been planted by volunteers over the last four years. Autumn Olive is a deciduous, somewhat thorny shrub with smooth grey bark. Autumn Olive was planted in Pennsylvania and other states for re-vegetation of severely disturbed areas that had been mined. Its most distinctive characteristic is the silvery scales that cover the young stems, leaves, flowers and fruit. The plants are drought tolerant and as they grow create heavy shade that suppresses the growth of new native plants and tree seedlings.

Flight 93 National Memorial is home to a variety of native plants and animals. Invasive plants like Autumn Olive display rapid growth spread with little or no human assistance, are expensive to remove and difficult to control once established. Invasive plants are a concern because they threaten the genetic integrity of native flora through hybridization, can out-compete native plant species for limited resources, and can change the structure and function of ecosystems. Establishment of invasive plants can also result in loss of habitat and food sources for native insects, birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Flight 93 Ranger staff will present the hands-on Reforestation Discovery Table at the Memorial Plaza both days of the event. Visitors will have opportunities to explore the  connections between the stories of Flight 93 and the changing memorial landscape. There will also be opportunities to  learn about invasive plant species and the importance of reforestation.

About the Flight 93 National Memorial

On September 24, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Flight 93 National Memorial Act. The Act created a new national park unit to commemorate the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who, on September 11, 2001, courageously gave their lives thereby thwarting a planned attack on our nation's capital. The memorial is near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed with the loss of its 40 passengers and crew. For information on how to make a donation to support projects like reforestation and invasive species removal at Flight 93 National Memorial, visit www.Flight93Friends.org.

About the Western PA National Parks There are five National Park sites in Western Pennsylvania: Flight 93 National Memorial, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS, Friendship Hill NHS and Johnstown Flood National Memorial. The five parks welcomed 852, 626 visitors in 2014. For more information and a list of planned activities and special events for each park visit the parks websites,Facebook pages, emailWEPAinformation@.gov or call MaryEllen Snyder at 724-329-8131.

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Last updated: April 12, 2015

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