NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday March 31st 2020

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Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

By SUE HUNTER WEIR
175th in a Series

An Oasis by Streets and Industry

Trees can reduce air temperature by as much as 10 degrees within a block radius. If Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery had only 300 trees, eight tons of carbon monoxide from one of the city’s busiest intersections every year. Over the Cemeteriy’s 162 years there have been many tree planting events. The next one is April 18th—Earth Day 2020.
PHOTO TIM McCALL

Values beyond money
At a time when the value of most things is measured in dollars and cents, there are some who question whether cemeteries are sustainable. They question whether there is a business model for land that is purchased once but occupied forever. Cemeteries, especially inactive ones, are not moneymakers but they serve a number of valuable purposes. Not least of those is their value as urban green spaces.

22 Acres between pollution sources and Lake Street
Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery is the only green space of any significant size on Lake Street. It’s not large—only 22 square acres. In comparison, St. Mary’s Cemetery is 65 square acres, Hillside is 124, Lakewood is 250, and Fort Snelling National Cemetery is 436 square acres. Pioneers and Soldiers takes up only a very small percentage of the city’s land—only 7/10,000. The exact number of trees is not known, but if there are only 300, and there may well be double that, those trees remove eight tons of carbon dioxide from one of the city’s busiest intersections every year.

Cemetery is “Cool”
Trees also have a significant effect on local temperatures. In 2019, the National Academy of Sciences published a study that said that the right amount of tree cover (about 40%) can reduce air temperature by as much as 10 degrees. The cooling effect is very localized—it can be 10 degrees hotter across the street or only one block away.

Gifted trees keep giving
Over the years there have been several tree planting events in the cemetery. In September 1939, five local veteran organizations presented the City of Minneapolis with twelve evergreen trees as a memorial to the veterans buried in the cemetery. In 2003, the cemetery was Hennepin County’s Regional Arbor Day planting site. Volunteers planted 150 trees, one for each year that the cemetery had been in existence. There were large shade trees, such as Autumn Blaze and Green Mountain Sugar Maples. There were medium-sized trees like Ohio Buckeyes, Amur Chokecherries and Showy Mountain Ash. Twenty-seven specimen and evergreen trees were planted throughout the cemetery to provide species diversity and to create habitat for wildlife.

Enjoy heat relief in summer
When things heat up this summer and your air conditioning is making you feel claustrophobic, grab a lawn chair or a blanket and head out to your local cemetery. Bring a book, a sketchpad, a picnic lunch, or nothing at all. Hang out and enjoy the wildlife on Lake Street.

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