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Can the maple on the Intervale hotel site be saved? | Local News

CONWAY – Like the snail stinger that delayed dam construction in Tennessee and the spotted owl that did the same for old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest, the proposed hotel at Intervale has its own symbol that residents opposed to the project are rallying behind – a huge maple tree.

Tonight, dozens of residents, mostly from Intervale, are expected to attend a Conway Planning Council meeting to be held at 7 p.m. in the Marshall Gymnasium of the Conway Recreation Department at 176 Main Street in Conway Village, to speak out against the plan to build a 98-room hotel on the site of the Intervale Motel, a relic from the 1950s now closed with 16 rooms.

The tree first gained public attention after a letter was published to the editor of Interval resident Rod Forsman in the Sun. He called the tree “the jewel of the valley” and described its fall foliage as an “eye plug”.

Today, the “Save the Tree” movement has taken on a life of its own. Another Intervale resident, Jeff Shutak, who sat in front of the tree this week in a beach chair framed by an American flag and Save the Tree sign, vowed to chain himself to the majestic maple.

But can he be saved? Not likely.

If the hotel is approved, the hotel’s promoters have made it clear that the tree will be felled. Hotel plans show a triangle-shaped structure, like a stealth fighter jet, with one wing parallel to Intervale Cross Road and the other parallel to Route 16. The tree is located just under the wing of the hotel. Route 16.

The ancients might say that a maple’s root system does not extend beyond the circumference of its crown, but that is not true.

According to UNH Forestry Field Specialist Wendy Scribner, trees grown in the open air like the Intervale maple can grow two or three times the length of the crown radius.

Although most of the roots are no deeper than 18 inches, Scribner said, “I’m afraid I’m not sure how you could move a tree this size and successfully reestablish it elsewhere.

“The costs would be quite high as you would need to excavate and protect much of the tree’s considerable root system and soil, which, combined with the size and weight of the tree itself, would be enough. heavy, ”she said in an email.

“The logistics of moving such a large tree, with limited roads and overhead power lines would be daunting,” Scribner said.

Could it be integrated into the design of the hotel? One example is Moore’s country store in Lynchburg, Virginia, which was built around a tulip poplar. (See associated photo.)

Would hotel developers be ready to build around the tree?

This is a question that will probably be answered tonight.