USC Citizens for Land Stewardship
Conservation and stewardship of land and natural resources in Upper St. Clair

Morton Field Planting

Morton Field Planting

On April 17, 1999, USC CLS members and friends found a slow, steady rain awaiting them as they prepared to plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs on the slopes below the Morton field complex. Although cold and muddy, the weather could not have been better for the plants and seed.

The idea for the project surfaced at the end of last year when the township proposed a road along the downhill side of the fields to provide access to new lights, an announcer’s booth, and dugouts. The new road exacerbated already existing problems: erosion of steep slopes, minimal buffers between high activity areas and natural areas in the park, and collection of water on the trail accessing the Mayview side of the park. CLS members noted the situation during walks of the park and saw the opportunity to address some of the problems and, at the same time, increase awareness within the community of water quality and exotic species issues.

CLS designed the planting to emphasize native plants – those that grow naturally in this part of western Pennsylvania. Native plants define, both biologically and culturally, the places that we live. They also have the advantage of being adapted to the climate and conditions within their natural geographic ranges. The tree species planted were red oak, sugar maple, hackberry, green ash, red bud, and red maple. Shrubs included arrow wood (viburnum), red-osier dogwood, silky dogwood, and spicebush. The hope is that these native trees and shrubs will help to screen noise and light, and provide shade to limit the growth of aggressive, often non-native plants, like garlic mustard and poison hemlock. The grass species planted – big blue stem, little bluestem, switchgrass, and indiangrass – will help to stabilize the soil and fill material as the woody species establish.

CLS worked closely with the township forester, Walter Jarosh, who acquired seeds and plants from the Allegheny County Conservation District, Ernst Seeds, and Musser nursery. The USC Lions Club, USC Athletic Association, Sky Ridge Home Owners Association, USC Girl Scouts, CLS members and many individuals contributed hours of labor over several weeks to the plantings. All told, the community planted over 700 plants and 70 pounds of warm-season grass seed.