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Staunton celebrates Arbor Day with Tree City USA recognition, completion of grants, tree tour

stauntonStaunton City Council will issue a proclamation this week declaring April 30 as Arbor Day. Council will also celebrate Staunton again being honored as a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation, the fulfillment of two grant awards, and the launching of a new interactive tree tour.

The Tree City USA program recognizes municipalities that have active tree planting, tree care, and tree preservation programs, with this being the 25th year Staunton has been awarded the title.

The Great Gypsy Hill Tree Traipse is an interactive and self-guided tree and history tour hosted on the Traipse application that will be going live on April 23. From 2 to 5 p.m. at Gypsy Hill Park, staff will be demonstrating the app and offering tree tours highlighting the diverse mixture of unique and magnificent trees. Community members who would like to participate on their own can download the app or go to on or after April 23.

The Gypsy Hill Tree Traipse is made possible by a grant from the Blackley Family through the Blue Ridge Community Foundation.

The Virginia Department of Forestry awarded two grants to Staunton through the Trees for Clean Water Grant and Ash Tree Replacement Program. The Trees for Clean Water Grant allowed city staff to plant trees that are native Virginia species, offer long-term tree canopy benefits, are the right size tree for the space, and help clean water that makes it into our local waterways.

The Ash Tree Replacement Program funds the removal and replacement of Ash trees that are infested with Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive pest that attacks the trees and ultimately renders the trees hazardous from structural degradation. In total, the two grant programs allowed the city to plant 44 trees throughout town.

Staunton community members have a long-standing appreciation for trees with the first documented Arbor Day held in 1889 at Gypsy Hill Park.

Virginia Department of Forestry Trees for Clean Water 2020 Grant Completed:

  • Staunton was awarded funds for Street tree replacement and planting.
  • Along Richmond Avenue existing Bradford Pears were removed and replaced with 17 trees – Redbuds and Blackhaw Viburnum.
  • Along Middlebrook Avenue additional Bradford Pears were removed and replaced with eight Serviceberry trees.
  • All stormwater in Staunton eventually drains to Lewis Creek. Some of the trees planted with these grant funds are within 30 feet of one of the main tributaries that forms Lewis Creek.
  • City Crews provided match for the grant in form of labor and equipment to remove the Bradford Pears, plant and establish the new trees.
  • The grant came in under budget allowing the city to add 11 additional trees.
    • One American Elm was planted at Landes park.
    • Two Yoshino Cherry were planted as Staunton High School.
    • Eight Redbuds and Blackhaw Viburnum were planted in Gypsy Hill park.

Virginia Department of Forestry Ash Tree Replacement Program 2020 Completed:

  • Emerald Ash Borer in an exotic, invasive pest that attacks Ash trees. Trees that have not been treated with preventive insecticides die and become hazardous.
  • With funding assistance from VDOF, four large mature Ash trees that were infested with Emerald Ash borer were removed – two from Gypsy Hill Park and two from downtown Staunton.
  • Using funding assistance from VDOF, eight replacement trees were planted for those removed. Again, purchase of the trees came in under budget allowing city crews to plant more trees than were removed.
  • Trees and locations planted include:
    • One Shumard Oak planted near Gypsy Hill park gym
    • One Chinkapin Oak planted on Gypsy Hill golf course
    • One Chinkapin Oak planted at Gypsy Hill park bandstand
    • Four Serviceberry planted downtown, near the White Star Mill building
    • One American Hornbeam, planted in the Wharf area

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