‘Moon Tree’ To Be Rededicated At CARP On Arbor Day

From Potter County Today

moontree4Arbor Day (April 29), 2011, will be a memorable day at the county seat. Members of the Coudersport Area Lions Club are partnering with NASA, Coudersport Borough, the Potter County Board of Commissioners, the Pa. Bureau of Forestry and others for a dedication ceremony that will bring long-overdue attention to the “moon tree” at Coudersport Area Recreation Park.

Grown from a seed that flew to the moon some 40 years ago, the tree is alive and well inside a circle of fenceposts at CARP. It all dates back to Jan. 31, 1971, when Apollo 14 blasted off.

Astronaut Stuart Roosa brought along a canister of seeds to determine if being in the weightlessness of space would cause them to grow differently. These seeds were later germinated, analyzed, and given out to dozens of communities in 1976 during the country’s bicentennial celebration.

NASA is now inventorying and studying the “moon trees.” Potter County’s specimen, acquired from NASA by District Forester Bob Lewis, was teetering on the brink of death when it was resuscitated by Carol Patterson, wife of then judge Perry Patterson, who operated a tree nursery near Colesburg. Under her care, the seedling took root and was eventually healthy enough to be transplanted. With little fanfare, it was placed at CARP, where is has remained virtually unnoticed for more than three decades.

Few who pass by it are aware of its significance. NASA’s Dr. David Williams said that’s not uncommon. The whereabouts of most of the trees — redwood, Douglas fir, sycamore, sweet gum and loblolly pine — remain unknown to NASA and he’s eager to find them. Dr. Williams believes that, with DNA analysis technology now available, it’s time to re-examine the trees to determine the long-term effects of space on botanical specimens’ genetic structure.

mrspatterson1Potter County’s sycamore stands about 35 feet tall, a stone’s throw from the Allegheny River near the park caretaker’s mobile home. Lions Club leaders are assembling a short program for Friday, April 29, to rededicate the moon tree on the 40th anniversary of its return from space, and to recognize Carol Patterson (left) for rescuing it. The program will be open to the public and details will be announced soon.

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.

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