From the Moon to Wayne National Forest – The Tribune

From the moon to Wayne National Forest

Published at 5:00 AM on Saturday, June 15, 2024

Staff report

NELSONVILLE – The Wayne National Forest planted a Moon Tree sapling at the Forest Headquarters building on May 23 as part of an initiative between NASA and the US Forest Service.
The Sweetgum tree was one of fewer than 1,500 seedlings that flew thousands of miles beyond the moon aboard the unmanned Orion spacecraft and spent six weeks in space. NASA’s Artemis I mission launched on November 16, 2022 and was the first in a series of missions that enabled human exploration on the moon.
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is native to southeastern Ohio and many can be found near headquarters and throughout the National Forest lands.
The Moon Tree seedlings were grown at US Forest Service nurseries. The Wayne’s sweetgum was grown at the Charles E. Bessey Nursery, part of the Nebraska National Forest in Halsey, Nebraska.
Forest Supervisor Lee Stewart said the Moon Tree symbolizes Wayne’s efforts to be a progressive organization that values ​​collaboration and innovation.
“The Moon Tree reminds us that stewardship often starts as small as a seedling, and that with innovation, dedication and perseverance, anything is possible,” said Stewart. “We are honored to be part of such a unique scientific partnership.”
Athens Ranger District forester Lily Zahor nominated the Wayne to receive a Moon Tree.
She cited the easily accessible location of the Forest Headquarters for local communities as one of the key benefits, and that in the future there will always be a forest ranger on hand to care for the tree. Zahor, who wore an enamel NASA pin on her U.S. Forest Service uniform collar to commemorate the occasion, planted the Moon Tree at a pavilion with help from Forest employees.
Zahor said she hopes the sapling will inspire visitors to explore the natural world around them, especially the National Forest.
“Ohio has a long and rich history of aerospace exploration, including the Wright Brothers and John Glenn, who called the state their home,” Zahor said. “The Moon Tree connects two separate entities that people should value: natural resources and natural wonders.”
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The forest asks visitors to respectfully admire the Moon Tree. Fences and mesh prevent nature and landscape maintenance activities from damaging the sapling.
The forest will hold a dedication ceremony for the Moon Tree at a date to be determined.
Other Moon Tree species included sycamores, Douglas firs, loblolly pines and giant sequoias.
For more information about the first generation of Moon Trees planted in the United States, visit
The original version of Moon Trees began with the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, when Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa brought back approximately 400 to 500 loblolly pine, sweetgum, Douglas fir, redwood and sycamore seeds.
A former U.S. Forest Service firefighter, Roosa served in 1953 as a smokejumper, or someone who parachutes in to fight remote wildfires, before becoming an astronaut in 1966.