They're planting trees at Gettysburg National Military Park. More specifically, they're planting areas that were forested during the battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and that today are open ground.
The funds for the planting comes from a donation from the Apache Foundation, an arm of Apache Corporation, and energy exploration company, to the Gettysburg Foundation. Additionally, contractors at the military park will be replanting two more historic orchards in early May.
The work is part of a long-term project to return major battle action areas on the Gettysburg battlefield to their appearance at the time of the fighting in July 1863.
The donation of 56 orchard trees includes hardy varieties of apple to replant the historic north orchard at the Frey farm and the Patterson orchard, both located along Taneytown Road.
According to park historians, almost every farm of any size in 1863 Gettysburg had an orchard, usually of a size in proportion to the farmstead. The orchards played many roles during the battle—cover from observation or from fire for both troops and artillery batteries; concealment during movement; obstructions to observation or clear fields of fire; and places to gather to rest or seek medical assistance.
The wooded areas that will be replanted include nearly five acres at Culp’s Hill near Spangler’s Spring and other areas, as well as one-third of an acre at the Philip Snyder farm along Emmitsburg Road. Some planting began earlier this week when crews started adding Black Cherry, Sassafras, Black Gum, Tulip Poplar, Silver Maple, Pin Oak, Green Ash, and Sumac saplings to the park's landscape.
The Gettysburg Foundation secured the donation of trees from the Apache Foundation, and they are providing the funding to plant the orchards and the wooded areas.
Since 2000, the park has replanted 110 acres of orchards at 35 historic sites on the Gettysburg battlefield where major battle action occurred. The park has also replanted 43 acres of trees in areas that had lost their trees since the 1863 battle.
The Gettysburg Foundation is the park’s primary partner for battlefield rehabilitation projects at Gettysburg. The foundation is funding multiple projects on the battlefield this spring and summer, including: burying overhead utility lines in the southern portion of the battlefield; removing an intrusive restroom building at Devil’s Den; and the demolition of two recently acquired modern houses on located Emmitsburg Road on the historic Philip Snyder farm.
To find out more how you can become involved in preservation on the Gettysburg battlefield contact the Gettysburg Foundation at (717) 338-1243 or go to www.gettysburgfoundation.org.