‘Moon Tree’ to be Celebrated April 29

Potter County’s “moon tree” will be in the spotlight on Arbor Day – Friday, April 29 – during a dedication ceremony at the base of the significant sycamore at Coudersport Area Recreation Park (CARP).

Officials will gather for a brief program at 1 pm to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 14 mission that brought the specimen to CARP as a celebration of space travel, history and scientific research.

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 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.”

Few who pass the sycamore tree at CARP are aware of its significance. NASA’s Dr. David Williams believes that, with DNA analysis technology now available, it’s time to re-examine the trees to determine the long-term effects of weightlessness on botanical specimens’ genetic structure.

Coudersport Area Lions Club is sponsoring the Arbor Day dedication ceremony that will bring long-overdue attention to Potter County’s tree. It stands about 35 feet tall and is located next to the Allegheny River near the park caretaker’s mobile home.

Friday’s program, which is open to the public, will be highlighted by the unveiling of a plaque that will be mounted at the foot of the tree. Also, a representative of Congressman Glenn Thompson will present a copy of a speech presented on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives drawing attention to the tree.

Stanley Hess from the local Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry office will share information on the Moon Tree and Arbor Day. A representative of State Assemblyman Martin Causer will present a certificate of appreciation to Carol Patterson, a local arborist who “rescued” the disease-ridden tree in 1976 and nursed it back to health.

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