Staunton launches Tree Tour celebrating 25 years as a ‘Tree City’

A pair of 130-year old green ash trees near the entrance of Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park.
A pair of 130-year old green ash trees near the entrance of Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park.(WVIR)
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - Staunton is celebrating its 25th year as a ‘Tree City’. To commemorate the occasion, and just in time for Arbor Day, they’ve rolled out an interactive tree tour.

The Great Gypsy Hill Tree Traipse is a new walking tour of Gypsy Hill Park featuring some of the park’s more prominent trees.

Right at the entrance, there’s a 130-year old green ash tree.

“It’s a native shade tree,” Matt Sensabaugh, a Staunton horticulturist, said. “And at one time it was a very common street tree.”

In fact, there are two of them right next to each other. “These are kind of special trees. And they were actually planted around 1889 in our first Arbor Day,” stated Sensabaugh.

But, it takes work to keep them alive. “We’ve been actually injecting these trees with a chemical over the years and that protects them,” Sensabaugh stated.

The injection prevents an emerald ash borer infestation. “Emerald ash borer is an introduced pest,” said Sensabaugh.

The bugs kill ash trees.

A grant from the Virginia Forestry Department helped the city take down infested trees and replace them. “We removed four with the grant funds but we’ve lost more than that,” said Sensabaugh.

Another grant, Trees for Clean Water, helped them remove Bradford pears around town and plant other trees. “Both projects came in under budget so we were actually able to plant more trees than we had planned,” stated Sensabaugh.

This is what it means to be a ‘Tree City’. It’s recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for being committed to trees - caring for them, planting them, and replacing them when needed. Even so, some are irreplaceable like the green ash trees at the front, and others. They are rooted in the park’s very beginnings.

“Even if you’ve lived here all your life you’ll learn some kind of unique things about Gypsy Hill Park in the process and the trees that are such a big part of it,” said Sensabaugh.

To take the tour, just download the free Traipse app and look for the Great Gypsy Hill Tree Traipse. It includes 30 stops throughout the park.

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