Fort Smith Moon Tree
This plaque is found near the base of Fort Smith's Moon tree. This plaque provides viewers with the historical significance of this tree.
Here stands the fully grown and healthy Loblolly tree. Thanks to it's caretakers it will see a long and healthy lifespan.
Backstory and Context
Apollo 14 first launched into space on the afternoon of January 24, 1971. Stuart Roosa was one of the members chosen to go into space on this mission. Stuart Roosa being an outdoor enthusiast and adventurer his whole life began working for the United States Forrest Service. Stuart Roosa served as what the Forest Service would call a smoke jumper. Smoke jumpers specialize in dropping into heavily fogged or smoked areas for rescue when visibility is extremely poor. Little did Stuart Roosa know, but his time and experience from working in and with the Forest Service would provide him the opportunity to be apart of a greater mission than just traveling to space. Prior to launch, Roosa was contacted by the U.S. Forrest Service and was asked to help with an experiment that could one day prove to be great information to have. The United States Forest Service was eager to see the results of an experiment like this and thought it would be crucial information leading into the future.
Ed Cliff, Chief of the Forest Service knew of Stuart Roosa from his days as a smoke jumper for the Forest Service and was eager to ask him for his help and thoughts on the experiment. The experiment was going to test a seed’s ability to grow and function normally after an extended period of time in a “weightless” environment. Scientist from both the Forest Service and NASA agreed this would be valuable knowledge to have and got behind the experiment. It is a well known fact that eventually our earth will die, so scientists are planning for a future that may not be on this planet. Many scientists thought that once the seeds were exposed to an extended period of time in weightlessness that they would no longer be capable of germination and growing. Had they not been able to grow, scientists would have another problem to solve on their hands with figuring out how we could one day be able to grow crops and provide food for people. Stuart Roosa took pride in getting to be apart of this mission and experiment that lead to the birth of hundreds of Moon Trees around the world.
Aboard Apollo 14 were hundreds of seeds that varied in type. Loblolly Pine, Sweetgum, Redwood, Sycamore, and Douglas Fig trees were among the different types of seeds brought. Once returned to Earth, the Forrest Service was skeptical about whether or not the seeds would be able to germinate and grow, but to their surprise hundreds of seeds successfully grew and were scatter out around the globe to be planted and cared for by people or organizations that would appreciate the significance of such a thing. Most of the Moon Trees were spread out throughout the United States in places like Alabama, Virginia, Washington, Utah, Arizona, and several other states.
This Loblolly Pine tree was planted in Fort Smith, Arkansas in celebration of Arbor Day on March 15, 1976. Arbor Day Foundation is a company that recognizes the important role that trees play in our world. Arbor Day Foundation is launching a new initiative that is called, "the Time for Trees Initiative," which fights to preserve, protect, and build new forests that home thousands of trees. I think that the Moon Trees planted around the world symbolizes what trees do for us and our quality of life. They are providing a beautiful example of life that does things like clean our air, purify our water, and create healthy communities. The fact that a Moon Tree finds it home in my home state of Arkansas is something that I think is very cool.
Fischer, William . Moon Tree Loblolly Pine (Pinustaeda), National Historical Marker. January 24th 2016. Accessed October 27th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=92358.
Williams , David R. . The "Moon Trees", The Moon Trees. August 3rd 2020. Accessed October 27th 2020. https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/moon_tree.html