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Volunteers needed to plant trees at Flight 93 memorial

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Volunteers are needed to plant thousands of trees at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County.

As they have for the past two years, hundreds of people will donate labor at the site this month during the two-day “Plant a Tree at Flight 93” event.

The project goal eventually will result in 150,000 trees at the site.

“It's a great event. It's amazing how much has been accomplished in such a short time,” said Jeff Reinbold, National Park Service of Western Pennsylvania superintendent.

“It's wonderful to see so many people come out and help reforest the land. A lot of people don't realize that reforestation is central to the design of the site,” Reinbold said.

About 50 volunteers are needed for each day of the planting, scheduled for April 25-26.

Those interested in participating must register in advance online at www.nps.gov/flni. Volunteers for the 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. plantings must be 14 or older.

The memorial pays tribute to the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93 who, on Sept. 11, 2001, gave their lives by thwarting a planned terrorist attack on the nation's capital, fighting back against the plane's hijackers.

The $60 million memorial marks the site where the San Francisco-bound airliner crashed near Shanksville. It was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

National Park Service officials said businesses and organizations have committed to providing more than 150 volunteers each of the two planting days.

The 2012 and 2013 efforts led to the planting of nearly 28,000 seedlings.

This year, forestry professionals will lead the volunteer effort to plant 20,000 seedlings on 30 acres of reclaimed strip-mined land.

A mixture of several native species, the trees will form a windbreak to protect the 40 Memorial Groves, improve wildlife habitat, restore the land to its pre-mining appearance and form a living memorial.

Additional plans at the memorial site include a visitor and learning center complex that is scheduled to open in 2015.

Design work will begin this summer on a 93-foot Tower of Voices, containing 40 wind chimes.

Fundraising continues to help with some of the smaller projects to complete the design, including additional tree planting and trail networks, Reinbold said.

The park will remain open during regular visiting hours, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., during the tree planting.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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