The Trees at Crown Hill Woods “Have a Life”

Forests matter, and people are willing to speak out to protect them. In the words of a second grader at the School for Community Learning: the trees there have a life.

By Anne Laker

Hundreds of calls generated to elected officials. School children speaking bravely to the TV cameras about the value of trees. Veterans pleading with the Veterans Administration not to destroy a forest in their name.

Since the Indianapolis community got wind of the Veterans Administration project to displace and destroy an old-growth forest with a concrete-heavy memorial on Crown Hill Cemetery’s North Woods, we’ve all been galvanized by the nerve this issue has struck. Forests matter and people are willing to speak out to protect them. In the words of a second-grader at the School for Community Learning: the trees have a life.

Here’s an update:

Sept. 20, the Indiana Forest Alliance and members of the coalition to save Crown Hill Cemetery North Woods met face to face with VA officials from Washington. They showed us their latest design plans–which are 95% done, at a total investment to date of nearly $2 million. We walked the woods, looking at marked trees, the great majority of which are marked to be felled, to be replaced by tree starts, like those you might see at a newly-opened big box store, or housing development.

Looking up into the high branches of Indianapolis tree.The VA made clear their intentions to go forward with a project that will supposedly honor veterans by destroying the only old-growth forest in inner-city Indianapolis unless, in their words, the top brass at the VA i.e., Veterans Secretary Robert McDonald (, tells them to hold up and look at alternatives.

Your contacts to Secretary McDonald, and your continued calls to U.S. Senators Donnelly & Coats, Representatives Brooks & Carson, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, will be the determining factor in this crusade.

Another action you can take is to attend a peaceful walk, from Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) to the Crown Hill Cemetery Woods, this Sunday, September 25 at 3 p.m. Bring your signs and banners (or come early at 2 p.m. and make some at tables near the CTS parking lot). Please help spread the word.

Come and see the majestic forest we want so much to save. Smell the spicebush and pawpaw leaves blowing in the breeze. Crane your neck at the tallest burr oaks. Hear poetry by author Kevin McKelvey.

Review the Crown Hill Woods media coverage. And keep raising your voice for the only old-growth forest in inner-city Indianapolis.

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