FirstEnergy’s PA Green Team Beautifies Lands Near Famous Fallingwater House

FE PA Green Team

FirstEnergy’s Green Team in western Pennsylvania recently converged on a remote corner of the sprawling wilderness property home to architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater house to plant shrubs and trees native to the region. 

Very few, if any, of the 160,000 annual visitors to Fallingwater will ever notice the fruits of the Green Team’s labor. 

In fact, the 125 red maple, pin oak, possumhaw and black chokeberry saplings that more than a dozen FirstEnergy volunteers carefully placed and staked in the dirt are meant to help restore forested habitat within the park that has been lost over the years, with the added benefit of helping deter certain visitors to the Bear Run Nature Preserve near Mill Run. 

“We’re hoping it will deter some of the  ATVs riders if they see we are planting this up,” said Zack Zelazny, Stewardship Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy which owns the preserve, motioning to a gap in trees to an adjacent meadow. “We look forward to monitoring the trees and helping them along as they mature.” 

Restoring forested habitat 

For years, the former strip mine crisscrossed by dirt tracks has been a strong magnet for ATVs. But Zelazny is hopeful that at least a few of the strategically placed saplings will grow tall enough to block off some trails – and that the many cardboard sleeves shielding the baby plants from browsing deer will show riders someone cares about this mine-scarred land.  

The planting at Bear Run Nature Preserve was part of FirstEnergy’s continued commitment to the environment and the communities served by its electric companies. FirstEnergy has planted more than 67,000 trees across its service territory since the initiative started, and the company is on track to plant 25,000 more trees this year. 

The Green Team is comprised of FirstEnergy employees who volunteer their time and talents to support a wide variety of environmental initiatives. 

“I really appreciate the outdoors and see the benefits of revegetating areas that need it for all to enjoy,” said Jeff Irons, a FirstEnergy Transmission Engineering Design Supervisor, as he stooped to tamp down dirt around a newly planted pin oak sapling next to a sign prohibiting motor vehicles.  

A rocky road 

Meanwhile and elsewhere on the preserve, a second Green Team squadron labored to bring life to a barren swath of the forest floor. The compacted area was a remnant of a log-skid road that had served a sawmill, gone for generations. 

“The best thing you can do is dig a good hole and let the trees that will grow put out strong roots to break up the soil,” Zelazny said. “It’s rocky, but there is good limestone with rich loam in between.” 

The crew hiked about a mile to the spot, packing in 125 native tree and shrub saplings, tools, stakes and protective sleeves. 

“The possumhaw and cranberry viburnum shrubs provide seeds for birds to eat and distribute,” Zelazny said. “The nitrogen acts as fertilizer as the birds excrete the seeds.”     

For more information about FirstEnergy’s environmental and corporate responsibility efforts to build a brighter and more sustainable future, visit 

Last Modified: June 5, 2024