The Swannanoa Valley Tree Alliance (SVTA) was formed in April of 2019 as a collaboration of Asheville GreenWorks, The Swannanoa Valley Museum and the (since disbanded) Black Mountain Urban Forestry commission. The need for recognition of Old Growth Trees in the Urban Forest Canopy to encourage their preservation became apparent as an explosion of development began in our valley.
The group formed in direct response to a town meeting about concern for a 200 year old White Oak tree that was cut for a new development of the Padgett Home Place on Padgettown Road. (READ POEM ABOUT THIS HERE) The council referred concerned citizens to the Urban Forestry commission to voice their concerns and there, with the help of the at the time chair of the commission, Sheridan Hill, the SVTA was born.
At the time, (and still as of today) the only real way to encourage landowners to preserve trees was through a voluntary program. The SVTA modeled their Treasured Tree initiative based on an already existing Asheville GreenWorks Treasured Tree program. Because citizens in our valley have such an appreciation for our rich history, it made sense to also collaborate with the Swannanoa Valley Museum in order to celebrate both the natural history of the trees along with the towns early history and beyond when the land these trees grow on belonged to the Cherokee Tribe.
Since the first year, the SVTA has recognized over 60 trees in the valley for their exceptional size, age, beauty or historic significance. We have trees on both public, private and commercial property throughout Black Mountain and Swannanoa. There are hundreds more trees deserving of recognition, so please help by nominating exceptional trees in your neighborhood.
How did you not see the value in it standing that I see?
A place to take shade for the next century,
a welcome to folks as they came home daily.
The sight of this trunk on the ground sickens me.
To spare it would have shown some decency,
while creating a grand entrance to your new community.
But you took it all away for a little more money.
39 lots for sale wasn't enough.
Though each would likely be worth more if this tree hadn't been touched,
as folks moving here value green space very much.
You could have cut nearly every tree on this 8 acre property,
and you wouldn't have heard a word out of me.
This isn't a crime against nature as much as one against humanity.
The problem is not of building of houses here you see,
Just the lack of respect, the disregard for the majesty -
for the wisdom and beauty these branches held for a century.
It was more than a tree, it was a beacon of history.
Not that I ever really had any, but I lose the last bits of hope in humanity
when I see this kind of careless greed in our society.
I don't expect my poetry to change anything, obviously.
But I hope one day you can recognize your responsibility.
We all have a choice, a voice, an obligation -
to respect what was here before us and to the next generation.
I didn't know the Padgetts' this town road was named for,
but I imagine them rolling in their graves evermore.
by Emily Sampson (about 544 Padgettown Road, Black Mountain)