Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Photo of the day: The Margaret Anderson Memorial Grove III

On January 1, 2012 Ranger Margaret Anderson was killed by a gunman during a traffic stop at Barn Flats, less than a mile from the busy parking lot of Paradise, where more than a hundred people were gathered to ski, snowshoe, and sled. Margaret's sacrifice as she blocked the road with her vehicle and body probably saved many lives from the intentions of a madman with a car full of guns. During the manhunt that ultimately found the shooter dead of hypothermia, a helicopter was dispatched to warn snow campers of the danger at large. With no other means of communicating with people on the ground, the pilots dropped coffee cups with messages scrawled on them.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the outpouring of community support was profound. People communicated their grief and love in hundreds of ways, by leaving flowers and cards, by donating money to Margaret's family, by putting blue lights on their home porches. In Sedro Woolley, gateway to North Cascades National Park, someone proposed planting trees in Margaret's memory. This turned out to be a more complicated proposal than you might think, because it is National Park Service policy to plant not only native trees, but local genetic stock -- which means that seeds are collected in the area to be planted, cultivated in the park's greenhouse, and then finally planted when they are mature enough to survive, a process that can take years. Fortunately, there were already some trees in the greenhouse left over from a research project in the same general area as Barn Flats. As an added twist, they were transplanted for their final months of growth into coffee cups from the same coffee shop as the original cups used to communicate with campers, and covered with messages written by members of the Sedro Woolley community. The messages ranged from "God bless you and your family" to scripture verses and quotes from John Muir to heartfelt messages of thanks for Margaret's sacrifice on our behalf.

Planting season at Mount Rainier is early autumn, just before the fall rains water the plants and just before snow buries them and puts them into deep hibernation for the winter. A group of students from the University of Washington - Tacoma had contacted the park looking for a volunteer planting project around this time, so it was a perfect match of need and opportunity, on what turned out to be a spectacular October day.

The Margaret Anderson memorial grove was planted on the site of the old Paradise Campground, within site of Barn Flats, within view of Mount Rainier, and at the location of a drive-up campground that was closed and restored to meadow habitat decades ago.

The Margaret Anderson Memorial Grove II

The Margaret Anderson Memorial Grove

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