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Planting a Tribute

Tree Groves Will Honor Victims of Sept. 11 Attacks

Nine memorial tree groves are being planned throughout the District of Columbia to commemorate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The groves are part of the U.S. Forest Service’s “Living Memorial Project,” which includes 34 sites in New York, Pennsylvania and the District.

In the District, Kingman Island in the Anacostia River will become home to the primary grove, and smaller clumps of trees will be planted in each of the city’s eight wards.

Philip Rodbell, program manager for Urban and Community Forestry in the Northeastern Area, said the Forest Service created the project in part because many families “gravitated” to parks and other open spaces to deal with grief following the 2001 attacks.

The Forest Service selected Kingman Island because of “the peacefulness of the site, the potential for the site to give respite and contribute to the healing of those who have been affected,” Rodbell said.

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation will host a competition to design the Kingman Island site in February, with a public presentation and selection of a design plan in March.

Local neighborhood groups, including Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, have been asked to submit nominations for the eight smaller groves.

District officials tapped Green Spaces for D.C., a nonprofit group, to guide the selection and design of the local groves.

The group’s executive director, Barry Goodinson, said sites will be judged on eight criteria, including whether the property is District-owned or open to the public; if there is a community group able to assist with the planting and installation of the site; handicap accessibility; distance from public transportation; and factors such as soil conditions and accessibility to water.

Each site will accommodate between 25 and 50 trees.

“So much of the park space in the city, or the neighborhood park space, is given over to more active recreation and this is a nice opportunity to provide people with a more contemplative space,” Goodinson said. “People think about 9/11 as something that has huge national symbolic and actual significance, but it had, particularly in Washington, a real effect on the day-to-day lives of people, so putting the parks in neighborhoods, we think, is important.”

Neighborhood groups have until mid-February to enter nominations, and site selection will take place in the following weeks. “The designs of the eight satellite groves will echo [the Kingman Island site] as much as possible, using similar plants, similar paving material … so there is a certain continuity throughout the city,” Goodinson added.

The Kingman Island site will be formally dedicated on Sept. 11. Dates for dedicating the smaller groves have not been set.

The project is financed with a $160,000 Forest Service grant, which will be matched by the District through in-kind contributions and cash donations. Although located on District-owned property, volunteers will be recruited to help plant and maintain the trees.

“We really want to make sure that there is a ‘friends of’ or a community group in place,” Goodinson said. “That’s when parks really thrive and are taken care of.”

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