The Crozet Trails Crew’s partnership with the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards to identify and label native trees along the Crozet Greenway is well underway. A handsome new sign now marks the notable American Beech on the trail behind Western Ridge, and the crew has cleared around the tree and installed a bench.
This year, ten additional trees have been tagged with QR codes that lead to the Virginia Tech Dendrology website, which includes fact sheets on 1,000 species of native trees and provides information on the tree bark, leaf, flower, fruit, and habitat of the specific tagged tree. At least ten additional trees have been identified for marking, many on the path to Lickinghole Basin—including two majestic tulip trees and another potential notable tree in Old Trail.
“The purpose of this project is to enrich the trail walker’s experience by highlighting native trees so they can learn more about the glorious nature all around us,” explained Steve Kostiw, who conceived and implemented the project, with the help of retired U.Va. doctor and amateur forester Scott Syverud.
“The American Beech is an understory tree, so it needs less sun,” Kostiw continued. “The bark is very thin, making it ideal for making beechwood barrels to age beer. Beechnut gum also comes from this tree. Our notable beech is at least 50 years old.”
The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards is an all-volunteer organization committed to promoting healthy urban and rural forests and to increasing public awareness of the value of trees in all environments. They deliver various educational programs, lead tree walks, and hold community tree sales. They also lead a wide range of field projects to prune and plant trees as well as remove invasive plant threats to trees in a five-county area around Charlottesville. After becoming interested through an OLLI class on trees, Kostiw became a tree steward in 2020 by taking 15 weeks of online classes plus field work and committing to 25 hours of service annually.
The Tree Walk Project is in its beginning stages. Plans also include more visible post markers to call attention to the tagged trees, the protection of the native trees by removing invasive species, and clearing access to selected trees. There will be a guided trail walk to the Basin Saturday, April 15, that will pass some of the tagged trees. Meet at the entrance to the Dog Park in Claudius Crozet Park at 1 p.m.
In other Trails Crew news, a new section of trail has been built by Albemarle County to connect the future Western Park to the Rowcross Trail. It is a dirt trail that runs from the south end of the park behind the Lodge at Old Trail and down to the Lickinghole Creek to connect with the Rowcross Trail—the other end of which begins at the intersection of Rowcross Street and Fielding Run Drive.
According to Trails Crew President Terri Miyamoto, “County staff held a seminar in building sustainable trails this winter, and the class went out with the instructor and the tools they needed to measure the slope and lay out the trail as the practical application of their class. It is specifically positioned to have the correct downhill slope so that water drains off without causing erosion.”