SHANKSVILLE, Pa. – On May 2 the National Park Service and volunteers from the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial came together on a beautiful Saturday to prune over 1,500 trees that make up the Memorial Groves dedicated to the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93. The 40 Memorial Groves, planted in 2012, sweep along the inside of the Park Entrance Road from the Visitor Center Complex to the Memorial Plaza. The trees create a living memorial to the 40 passengers and crew members. Each grove contains 40 trees, including Sugar Maple, White Oak, and Elm trees, with all trees radiating toward the center of the Field of Honor.
This partnership project was made possible through the donation of staff time and equipment provided by the Friends of Flight 93 and The Davey Tree Expert Company. Five staff members from Davey Resource Group, a division of Davey Tree, donated their time that Saturday to train and supervise 24 volunteers who are members of the Friends of Flight 93. The pruning shears that were used by the volunteers were donated by Corona Tools. In just under six hours the volunteers inspected, pruned and removed the cut branches from over 1,500 trees. This volunteer effort will not only improve the appearance of the trees, it will greatly increase the survival rate of the trees that make-up the forty Memorial Groves.
Karen Wise, regional operations manager of natural resource consulting for Davey Resource Group, was one of the pruning leaders, said she was amazed by what the group accomplished. “On behalf of the team of young tree pruning leaders from Davey it was a pleasure to work side by side with this group of volunteers,” said Wise. “Our collective effort gives these young trees a chance to grow tall and be healthy, and leaves a permanent and positive mark on the landscape of this special place.”
Dick and Julie Kinkade were two of the 24 volunteers that worked during this event and following the event they emailed the Park and said: “It was such an honor and privilege to be a part of the volunteers to prune the trees in the Memorial Groves that were planted to honor the forty heroes of Flight 93.”
During the morning briefing, Deputy Superintendent Keith Newlin thanked the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, the volunteers and Davey Tree staff for participating in the first ever Memorial Grove tree pruning event and noted that the work done by the volunteers will be enjoyed by the thousands of visitors who tour the site each day. Over 284,000 visitors toured the Memorial in 2014 and visitation at the site is expected to increase when the Visitor and Learning Centers opens this September.