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Volunteers Plant Native Shrubs at Point State Park on Earth Day

Jessica Nath
90.5 WESA

This Earth Day, volunteers are taking Point State Park back in time to the French & Indian War — or at least they’re taking the shrubbery back.

About 25 volunteers from the Student Conservation Association (SCA), American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) Association and the Penn State Master Gardeners planted native shrubs and flowers at Point State Park Tuesday.

The planting is part of the ongoing renovations at the park and AEO and SCA’s alternative spring break program, which centers around service projects.

Marcie Eberhart, AEO director, said conservation is important everywhere.

“We decided conservation doesn’t just have to happen in national parks, so this year we’re in a state park here in Pittsburgh, Point State Park,” Eberhart said. “And we’re doing some native planting and pulling out some invasives.”

The volunteers are growing native shrubs that existed during the French & Indian War in the 1750’s  - including 60 winterberries, 90 wild geraniums, dozens of clethra and blueberries.’

Penn State’s Master Gardeners plan to maintain these plants with weekly visits.

While the planting process continues until Saturday, Pittsburgh artist Ed Trask will begin designing a mural underneath the overpass in Point State Park.

Jean Murock Bartholomew, SCA crew leader, said murals have been painted in all the cities that decided to participate in the program - San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Pittsburgh.

“In every city we’re putting up a big mural that says “Heart This City” and then has the colors of the local city and some local symbols hidden in the mural,” Bartholomew said.  “So I’m hoping there’s going to be a Steelers sign in there.”

Eberhart said the mural is only temporary - but it can be moved.

“The mural is about 32 feet long and about eight feet high, and it’s in different sections, so we’ll be able to take it down and move it to other parts of the city after the project is done,” Eberhart said.

Bartholomew said the goal of the project is to make people appreciate and protect the spaces around them.

“For me it’s just about spreading the movement of having people care about their local spaces and recognizing that restoration work, conservation work all begins at home,” Bartholomew said. “So if we’re going to care about national parks and about federal lands, we need to care about our shared spaces and the places we live and really have a connection to preserving them and taking care of them.”

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.