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The Swannanoa Valley Tree Alliance has partnered with Asheville Greenworks, the Swannanoa Valley Museum, and the Black Mountain Urban Forest Commission, to designate and honor our area’s most beloved trees with a plaque which estimates each tree’s age and signifies its importance.

Last November the group invited the community to a celebration to install plaques on the first 10 Swannanoa Valley Treasured Trees. Over 50 tree lovers came out to the event which began at a historic dawn redwood in Christmount and continued along a walking and caravan route, installing plaques on nine more trees within the town of Black Mountain. 

The oldest of the trees recognized was a grand white oak on State Street, in front of Robo Oil, estimated to be at least 250 years old. It was likely to have been a sapling when the land it grows on still belonged to the Cherokee; when U.S. 70, which it sits inches from, was merely a footpath.

Emily Sampson, co-founder of the SVTA, said she hopes that getting plaques on this tree and the rest of the century old trees that stand in our community may prevent them from being indiscriminately cut down during future development. 

Another of the first Treasured Trees to be recognized was a tulip poplar along Flat Creek behind Ole Guacamole’s, nominated by the Delatorre family.  The tree and many others on the property are greatly valued because their roots hold the riverbank adjacent to the outdoor patio at the restaurant, intact. 

More than 20 area trees have now been recognized as Treasured Trees, including many on the historical Blue Ridge Assembly property, four on Black Mountain Recreation and Parks property, and several others in the front and back yards of business and private residences both inside and outside town limits. These trees have value to our community that transcend both generations and property lines.

As the populations of Asheville and Buncombe County grow, the Swannanoa Valley will continue to be under heavy development pressure. It's a critical time to start making a community effort to ensure the protection and well-being of our heritage trees and community forest as a whole.

What is a Treasured Tree? A Treasured Tree is one that is nominated by a property owner for its significant size, age, beauty, ecological importance or historic value. 

How does a Treasured Tree designation protect a tree?  Well, it doesn't place any binding restrictions on its removal, but it shows a future owner/developer that the tree is important, that it is highly valued by the previous landowner/steward, neighbors and the community.  As said by Sampson, a Treasured Tree plaque gives the tree a voice to those who might not speak tree the way we do. 

If you have a favorite tree on your property, consider nominating it. If your love is a tree lover, nominate a tree or make a donation to the SVTA in their name as a Valentine’s Day gift. All trees nominated must be done so with the property owners’ consent.

Visit the Swannanoa Valley Museum website to find out more about the Swannanoa Valley Treasured Tree program, to donate, get involved or to nominate a tree. https://www.history.swannanoavalleymuseum.org/treasuredtrees/

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