New York trail named after pioneer smokejumper

NEW YORK — On April 20, 2018, the USDA Forest Service joined the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Triple Nickles’ Association to celebrate the opening of a commemorative trail named after pioneer African-American smokejumper, Clarence Beavers.

Sergeant Beavers was the last surviving member of the first all African-American paratroopers from the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion known as the Triple Nickles.  During World War II, Triple Nickle paratroopers worked with the USDA Forest Service on Operation Firefly – a joint military and Forest Service mission designed to prevent Japanese incendiary bomb attacks from ravaging the nation’s forests.

Beavers and his platoon mates blazed a trail that contributed to full integration of African-Americans into the United States military in 1948. The national smokejumper program, which they helped advance, is still a vital component of the nation’s wildland firefighting structure.

What better way to honor a legendary man, than to name a trail after Mr. Beavers, a trailblazer himself. This recognition, in his home state of New York, not far from where his family still resides on Long Island in Huntington, is a unique testament to the impact provided by one of the native sons. This memorial trail is a gem tucked away in the Kings Park Unique Area in Smithtown, New York.

At the event, National Liaison Deidra L. McGee, gave remarks representing the Washington Office and Northern Research Station Ecologist Michelle L.  Johnson provided comments highlighting the local partnership representing the Station located in New York City. In addition, Mr. Beavers’ family and friends, were present at the event as well as representatives from the NY DEC staff, a NY State assemblyman, town council members and local news media.

The NYC Urban Field Station is a partnership between the Northern Research Station and NYC Parks, to conduct social-ecological research to support decision-making about urban forests in the NYC region. The field station regularly collaborates with other local partners, like the New York Department of Environmental Conservation The inauguration of the trail to commemorate Earth Day 2018 has strengthened those ties and further expands our partnership network. 

Follow this link for pictures of the event.


Clarence Beavers Memorial Trail poster. The poster delineates some of the highlights of Beavers' life.