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First Trees Are Planted At September 11th Memorial Site

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The National September 11th Memorial and Museum received more than a dozen trees Saturday, which are first of the nearly 400 trees that will eventually line the World Trade Center site.

The first swamp white oaks, which are now about 30 feet tall and will grow to about 80 feet, will eventually form a canopy over the cobblestone plaza surrounding the two reflecting pools built on the Twin Towers' footprints.

The trees were chosen from regions within a 500-mile radius of the attack site.

"All the trees were gathered largely from the three states where people died -- Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland," said Tom Cox, the president and chief executive officer of Environmental Design. "They are the most intensely cared-for trees in the history of the planet. At the nursery, they had fertigation systems, they had irrigation systems. The entire population of trees were monitored via computer, via live web cam, so anywhere we were in the world, we could swing to an individual tree across 15 acres there and resolve down to a single leaf."

The trees' roots will take hold below the concrete, suspended in irrigated soil that will stretch hundreds of feet along the length of the plaza.

Port Authority officials say the project is right on schedule. Both the pools and the memorial plaza are expected to open in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks next year. The museum is set to open in 2012.

"This place is going to be a place for the world to come. They’re going to come to mourn, they’re going to come to remember, they’re going to come to mark. It's our job to make sure we have that done on time, and we’re doing it everyday," said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. "Real tangible progress is happening here. And today, life is here at Ground Zero."

While it may be hard to imagine a forrest in the middle of what is still a concrete jungle, the green leaves amid all the grey was a sign that even more life is on the way.

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