Protect the Ravenscroft Reserve from Development
What is the Ravenscroft Reserve?
The property is owned by a development firm, who plan to construct a residential building on the lot. They appear to be sensitive to the need to protect the remaining trees in Asheville, and are willing to sell the property to the RRI for preservation purposes if the funds can be raised for the purchase.
The 0.5 acre lot at 11 Collier Avenue is an undisturbed natural urban forest containing 22 mature native oaks as well as many younger trees and shrubs. This forest is home to a variety of small animals including birds and an established bee colony. Its old-growth oaks range in height from 58 to 109 feet and form an expansive canopy visible from many vantage points around the area.
According to the Tree Evaluation Report conducted by Monty Wooten of Greenleaf Forest Management, this property is a "singular occurrence in the hardscape of the city center area. The stand also serves several ecosystem functions such as cleaning air, sequestering carbon, moderating noise, mitigating heat island effect, and capturing stormwater runoff. As such these trees serve the citizens of the immediate neighborhood and of the entire city."
Further, “Although this property contains .05% of the land mass, it accounts for almost 12% of the tree canopy in the [94-acre] study area.” The Report also touches on the historical significance of this wood. “Though no direct measurement of age was taken, a comparison of tree heights to site index data for the given soil type indicates that the subject trees are between 80 and 100 years of age.” This estimate is consistent with historical photos and maps of the area dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century. Based on these photos and maps, local historical preservationists have determined that this wood was a part of the former Ravenscroft School Campus, hence the name Ravenscroft Reserve.
The Purpose of the Ravenscroft Reserve Initiative (RRI), a not-for-profit grassroots initiative, is to acquire and permanently preserve a stand of tall, old native oak trees in downtown Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood.
The RRI advances the understanding of the value of natural eco-systems within urban environments by enabling residents and visitors of Asheville’s South Slope to experience first-hand the benefits of an urban forest.
Through the RRI’s preservation efforts and partnerships, the “Ravenscroft Reserve” will become downtown Asheville’s premiere place for experiencing and studying the benefits of a natural urban forest. The RRI intends for this wood to continue to exist in its natural state as a conservation area and passive park, protected with a permanent conservation easement. Picture a small wood-chip trail with a bench or two providing an opportunity for a peaceful experience under the trees in the middle of an otherwise concrete
desert. Signage will inform visitors about the trees and the historical significance of the area. We imagine a place for residents of the neighborhood to enjoy, reconnect with nature, and breathe.
The Need to Preserve Asheville’s Trees
The RRI sees the preservation of the forest at 11 Collier as necessary for the neighborhood, the City, and our community. We know we are not alone in this belief. Almost 1,900 community members have signed our 2019 petition opposing the destruction of this forest, and 400 seats were not enough to accommodate everyone interested in attending the November 2019 Symposium on Climate Change and Asheville’s Urban Forest organized by Asheville Greenworks’ Tree Protection Task Force.
The Urban Tree Canopy Study, commissioned by the City of Asheville in 2019, showed that the city lost 891 acres, or 6.4% of its tree canopy in the ten years ending in 2018. Many more acres have been taken down since that report. According to the USDA, loss of tree canopy in a city negatively impacts temperature, air quality, and even property values and social ties among neighbors.