Restoring the Elms
Since the 1960s, the community has preserved some of the memorial trees, and restored parts of the road to its original status. The highway was classified as a Scenic Historic Treasure by the State Arts Commission. Post 134 has replanted over 90 of the elms. In 1973, the trees won out over a proposal to widen Des Moines Road. In 1979, the word “Memorial” was added to Des Moines Way, and a signage program begun. The road's name was changed to Des Moines Memorial Drive in 1984.
In 1989, The University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture completed a study of the remaining American Elms - a joint effort of King County, Seattle City Light and Puget Power - to help guide the future of the memorial. The Des Moines Memorial Advisory Committee was created in 2000 by an agreement between King County and Burien, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Des Moines to oversee preservation of the Drive.
The Des Moines Memorial Drive Corridor Management Plan provides a framework for rehabilitation and enhancement of the Living Road of Remembrance. The Plan has three goals:
- To establish guidelines for comprehensive rehabilitation, enhancement and promotion of the original living road of remembrance
- To comprehensively identify and document all intrinsic qualities located in the study area
- To establish and implement a long-term management plan. In addition, the plan is designed to meet the special requirements of national and state scenic byway and heritage corridors programs and to provide the basis for nominating Des Moines Memorial Drive to national, state and local historic registers
The jurisdictions are presenting the plan to their respective Councils. The next steps include pursuing "Heritage Tour Route" designation for the Drive, developing a capital funding strategy, applying for grants, and incorporating the Memorial rehabilitation guidelines into upcoming road projects.