Thanks to a recent grant from two organizations, a
group from IUP is continuing to reforest and monitor the Flight 93 National
Memorial in Stoneycreek Township, Somerset County.
The university recently received two grants
totaling more than $12,000 from Green Forests Work and the National Parks
Foundation. According to Department of Biology faculty member Michael Tyree, the
money will be used to pay three students who will work to monitor the plantings
near the memorial crash site that have already been reforested.
The land being monitored was strip-mined from the
1950s through the 1990s, and work has been ongoing for the past five years to
reforest the land with native trees and shrubs. It’s near the site of the crash
of United Airlines Flight 93, in which 44 people were killed on September 11,
The three students who will work this summer with
Tyree—and fellow Biology faculty member Jeff Larkin—on the project are
Caleb Brady, of Clymer; Aaron Wolfe, of Penfield; and Kelsey Twining, of
Thompson. All three are biology majors in the Ecology, Conservation, and
Environmental Biology track.
“The idea is, after the final phase is complete, to
watch the forest develop over time,” Tyree said.
This is the sixth year that IUP faculty and
students have collaborated on the project, which is organized by the U.S.
Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and
Enforcement and the National Parks Service.
By the time the project ends in a few years, more
than 150,000 trees and shrubs will be planted on the land. Going into this
summer, more than 100,000 have already been planted in the ground.
“Historically, mining companies sprayed a mix of
grasses and herbaceous plants to stabilize the soil following a surface mine
operation,” Tyree said. “But work by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation
Initiative and other groups demonstrated they could plant native trees
and shrubs which not only save money, but is more ecologically sound.”
Over the past five years, more than 500 volunteers
a year helped to plant the trees and shrubs, and the job for the IUP group is
to monitor the growth.
“There’s been a lot of interest in this because it is
a memorial associated with 9/11,” Tyree said. “You drive right through this
section of land to get to the memorial, so it’s an important piece of land and
a great opportunity to show the public how disturbed land can be reforested.”