CATS Volunteers Planted Over 135 Trees This Fall!

Tree Steward Volunteers have been busy this fall. During the month of November and early December, CATS members planted over 135 trees in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. 

Ronald McDonald House

After an old, declining maple tree at the Ronald McDonald House had to be removed, Executive Director Rita Ralston contacted CATS for advice on replacement and one that the leaves wouldn’t gather in the parking lot and become slippery when wet. A Bald Cypress was recommended, and Barbara White and Tim Maywalt volunteered to plant the tree. Due to a lack of funding at Ronald McDonald House it was decided that CATS could also donate the tree and include it in our Virginia Trees for Clean Water grant request.

Rita Ralston with Dave and Barbara White, Toine Wycoff and Tim Maywalt
City Tree Planting Program:

The 10th and Page area of Charlottesville is a ‘Heat Island” – much hotter than the surrounding neighborhoods with more trees.  It is also a low income and historically black area of Charlottesville. CATS provides trees to anyone who would like one and is able to care for and water the tree. 

Our program is a little different from other tree grant programs in that residents can get any tree they want. We continue to maintain contact with the neighborhood residents and are available to answer any questions or concerns.  Many of the residents are descendants of several generations who have lived in the same neighborhood.  

This fall 23 trees were planted on various private properties in this neighborhood.

This program is funded by the Caplin Foundation,  CATS donations, and a grant from ReLeaf Cville.

Lots More Tree Projects:

7 trees were planted in the parking lot of VA. Department of Forestry to replace trees that were previously deemed “diseased”.  There was a great turnout of volunteers to help with this planting, including recent graduates from the 2023 Tree Steward Class Training.

22 trees of various species were planted at Rives Park as part of our Tree Steward Training Class.

Instructors Tim Maywalt and Barbara White with class at Rives Park.

How to Transplant a Field Tree Demo This tree was from our class planting 2 years ago at Darden Towe.  It lost its leader and so it was decided that we should replace it with a more representative Tulip Tree.  We took the “defective” tree and planted in on the edge of the field out of the main public area.  And then a “better” tulip tree was planted at the original site.

The group watched the very careful work of digging out the rootball of the tree.

2 trees were planted in the median of Route 20, the Gateway, to replace trees that had died a year or more earlier.  The planting of these 2 trees restored the tree numbers from an earlier CATS planting of over 70 trees.   

40 trees and bushes were planted in the CATS Grove in McIntire Park.  This expanded the footprint of the Grove and further pushed back the invasive plants around the area. 

13 trees, both canopy and understory, were planted in a new area of Darden Towe Park.  The site is near the cricket field and little league baseball fields. 

Darden Towe Park Planting

5 Trees were planted at Chris Greene Lake Park to replace trees that did not survive the summer. They were planted in the spring of 2023.

One tree was planted in Mint Springs Lake Park in Crozet, again to replace a spring planted tree that did not survive the summer. 

Funding for the purchase of all these trees and materials was provided through grants from the Virginia Department of Forestry, as well as some private donations. 

Steve and Tony at Mint Springs on Nov. 29. Putting in a replacement Tulip tree.

Chestnuts at Lesesne State Forest

On Saturday, September 16th Tom Wild led walks for both RMN and CATS members at the Chestnut orchards in Lesesne State Forest. It was a perfect late summer day and a wonderful way to spend some time together outdoors. We Learned about the history of the land, which was donated for American Chestnut tree research and the tree breeding program work being done to save this tree.

Tom explained the human assisted pollination method by using collected pollen, cutting off the tree’s male catkins and bagging the female flowers. This ensures that the researchers know the parent’s genetics and the ratio of Chinese to American characteristics of the resulting nuts.  A bucket truck is used to work in the tree’s canopy to install the bags.

Some bags have an additional mesh covering due to the sensitive nature of the research providing extra protection from wind and critters.

Tom went on to describe the differences in the bark due to age or the presence of chestnut blight. Leaves, burs, nuts and bark were examined and the details that distinguish the difference between an American and a Chinese Chestnut were discussed.

Trees we visited at a second location in the forest have an interesting experimental history. The rootstock was irradiated, the parent trees died and then American Chestnuts were grafted onto the root base. 

Many thanks to Tom for this wonderfully informative and interesting talk and tour of the site at Lesesne State Forrest.

Photo credit: JoAnn Dalley

Top Tree photo: M. Spear

Waynesboro Greenway Cage Project

On Saturday August 12, CATS and Headwaters Master Naturalists joined forces in Waynesboro to replace beaver cages around planted trees along the Greenway.   The shaded path and breeze down by the river and enthusiasm all around made for a perfect workday. We assisted over 50 trees including; river birch, willow oak, London plane trees, cherry, sycamore, and others.  

This project was the brainchild of Breyette Covington (CATS class of 2022) who lives in Waynesboro and is also Master Naturalist.    It has been a dream of hers to bring both groups together to support trees in her hometown.  Breyette worked with Tree Steward Kathy Nepote  and Stephen Black (Horticulturalist for the City of Waynesboro) to make this project become a reality.

Special thanks to Allen Ingling for tackling the “poison ivy tree”, thus protecting those of us who are so allergic. Shout out to current CATS trainee Doug Speck for joining us!   We were also joined by Diana and David Covington who proved to be valuable and joyful assistants.

This is the first collaboration between CATS and Headwaters Master Naturalists and we look forward to more adventures in the future!