Board of Commissioners designates Sept. 4 as Arbor Day in Montreat

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The Montreat Board of Commissioners approved the designation of Sept. 4 as Arbor Day on Thursday, Aug. 12.

The town of Montreat Board of Commissioners approved the designation of Sept. 4 as Arbor Day. 

"Let it be resolved that the town of Montreat Board of Commissioners hereby designate September the 4, 2021 as Arbor Day in the town of Montreat," Mayor Tim Helms said Aug. 12, reading from the official designation. 

The motion to approve the designation came from Commissioner Alice Lentz, seconded by Commissioner Jane Alexander. The board approved the designation unanimously. 

According to the board, the town of Montreat is actively working with the American Chestnut Foundation to reintroduce the iconic species into not only the Montreat area, but also Western North Carolina. 

"Whereas the American chestnut tree was a native source of beauty and an important resource for food and lumber at the time of Montreat's inception at the end of the 19th century," read Mayor Helms from the designation. 

Wild American chestnut trees growing in Western North Carolina.

The designation also discussed the history of Arbor Day, how it began as a celebration of planting trees and grew to an international holiday where millions of trees and seedlings are planted nationwide. 

Ann Vinson, chair of the Montreat Tree Board, said the focus of this year's celebration will be on the American chestnut, a tree that has been impacted by blights and ecological disease over the years, significantly reducing the population. Representatives from the American Chestnut Foundation plan to speak at the Arbor Day event, teaching the community about preserving the trees. 

Roughly 50% of the Montreat forest in the early 1900s was American chestnut, according to Vinson. She said 90% of the chestnuts were decimated by a blight in the 1920s and 1930s. 

"We have been wanting to reintroduce the American chestnut, just waiting for a good species to have been developed that was going to be blight resistant," Vinson said. 

Since the national office for the American Chestnut Foundation is located in Asheville, Vinson anticipates good representation from the foundation and informative lectures from all the representatives. 

The Arbor Day celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 4 at Montreat Town Hall.