The 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Thursday, April 22nd, was a fitting date for the continuation of the ongoing reclamation effort at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia. The project is a partnership between the Glenville State College Land Resources Department and Yeager Airport to environmentally reclaim the land that was disturbed during the extension of the runway.
Approximately one hundred students and community volunteers gathered at the site to continue the massive tree planting in an effort to reforest the slope below the runway. Students from Glenville State College were joined by students from Washington and Lee University of Virginia, and fifty students from Edison Middle School in Parkersburg, West Virginia. “I was very impressed by the effort that was given by these students from other schools. It is rewarding to see their concern for the environment in an area that is far from their campuses,” said Rick Sypolt, GSC Professor of Forestry and Land Surveying and Department Chair. Students from Pfeiffer University of North Carolina, Oberlin College of Ohio, and West Virginia Wesleyan College participated in three other plantings earlier this spring.
The Earth Day activity included a special planting of twenty-nine flowering pear trees, one in honor of each of the miners who were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion on April 5th. GSC graduate William Roosevelt Lynch ’72 was among those killed in the disaster. Glenville State College President Dr. Peter Barr joined West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and other dignitaries for the planting ceremony.
Over three-thousand trees supplied by the West Virginia Division of Forestry were planted on the day. To date, the reclamation project has planted over ten-thousand red oak, locust, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, and Chinese chestnut trees at the airport. “The reclamation of the hillside should be completed in a year or two. A normal survival rate could mean that within five years or so, the land will be reforested which should help hold the hillside in place and also provide a very aesthetic view of the area,” said Dr. Bob Henry Baber, GSC Major Gifts Officer who has been spearheading the project.
“This has been a terrific service learning experience for our students. It has certainly surpassed our expectations. GSC President Dr. Peter Barr should be commended for his support and vision. He gave the green light to this green project,” said Baber.
The GSC Adopt-an-Airport project started in the fall of 2008 and is now over fifty percent complete. The tree plantings at the site will resume in the fall of 2010.