By Luke Weir
Twelve trees in Blowing Rock’s Memorial Park were removed due to safety concerns caused by trunk rot and root decay on the week of Feb. 12.
Blowing Rock Town Council voted unanimously last December to remove 11 red maple trees and one cherry tree after prolonged discussion dating back as far as 25 years ago, according to town manager Ed Evans.
“Somebody told me there was a notation in the minutes from 25 years ago that the trees were being loved to death,” Evans said. “These trees got loved so much throughout their history. That led to their deterioration.”
Town council cast its vote based on a review of Memorial Park conducted last fall by the North Carolina Forest Service. The review observed rot and decay in the trees and called for their removal.
“In all 12 trees the heartwood was compromised, some of them outright rotten,” Evans said. “We can’t risk a tree or huge limbs falling and injuring the very people we invite to enjoy our park.”
Blowing Rock Town Council voted during their December 12, 2017 meeting to enact a removal and replacement plan by the Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory. Removing and replacing the trees as suggested by the town appearance advisory is estimated to cost around $120,000, according to town council meeting minutes.
Hunter’s Tree Service removed the trees with a crane the week of Feb. 12. By Feb. 16, the 50 to 70 year-old trees were reduced to a dozen stumps dotted throughout Memorial Park.
Evans said the tree trunks and stumps have been given to various people and will probably be preserved as some form of art or furniture in the future.
Work continues on stump removal in Memorial Park on Monday, February 19. Now that the old ailing maples have been removed, Evans said new trees will be planted soon.
“The goal is to have the new trees planted the last week of February, or no later than mid-March,” Evans said. “We have trees already tagged at various nurseries throughout Western North Carolina.”
The row of trees bordering Main Street Blowing Rock will be a hardy and beautiful species of black gum tree, Evans said, and a variety of different species will replace the others.
“We’re trying to get some sizable trees so it won’t look like we just planted a dozen tiny saplings,” he said. “Granted, it won’t be a lot of tall trees in my lifetime—our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy it.”
Where tall old trees once stood sickly, healthy new foliage has a chance to flourish.
“It was a tough decision, but it was the right decision.” Evans said. “We love the trees, we’re sorry they’re gone.”
Scenes from Blowing Rock Park from Friday afternoon