Swannanoa Valley Tree Alliance holds spring walking tour of historic trees

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The Swannanoa Valley Tree Alliance prepares for its spring tree tour, an informative walk looking at six special trees in Black Mountain.

The Swannanoa Valley Tree Alliance will be holding a walking tour of Treasured Trees at Camp Rockmont on April 16.

A cooperative between Asheville GreenWorks and the Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center, the Tree Alliance designates trees within the Swannanoa Valley bearing significance. This significance can be size, beauty, age or a historical element. 

"We have over 50 trees with plaques on them," said Emily Sampson, the founder of the Tree Alliance. 

Each fall and spring, the alliance plans a tree tour of a different area. This particular walk of Camp Rockmont looks at six trees encompassing a 2-mile walk.

The six trees are American beech, sycamore, yellow buckeye, hemlock and two tulips. Sampson said the trees range in age from 120 to nearly 180 years old.

The spring walk, planned around Earth Day, discusses the history seen by each tree, a nod to the alliance's partnership with the Swannanoa Valley Museum. 

Created in 2019, the alliance represents a response to the development of the historic Padgett home site in Black Mountain. When the massive oak tree sitting outside the ancestral home was cut down, Sampson said the act inspired community members to protect similar trees in the area. 

Treasured Tree kickoff in 2019 with the plaque installation at a dawn redwood in Christmount.

Sampson took the volunteer route, encouraging community members to nominate specific trees for recognition. Though this recognition holds no legal status, it shows community support, asking developers to respect the area.

"Asheville GreenWorks already has a treasured tree program," Sampson said. "We started making our plaques from the same place they make their plaques and sort of modeled our program after theirs."

The April walk will include discussions from a representative of Camp Rockmont, a local historian and Sampson, who holds a degree in ecology.

Aside from Rockmont, the alliance recognizes trees all over town. Roughly one dozen sit on town property. Another 20 or so are on private property while others sit at Christmount and the Blue Ridge Assembly. 

"It's about celebrating trees and trying to preserve them," Sampson said. "It's not just about the individual tree, it's about the urban forest canopy."

The Treasured Tree Walk will be held 10 a.m.-noon April 16 at Camp Rockmont. For more information, visit www.svtreealliance.com.

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.