Comeback of the American Chestnut Needs Our Help

This story appeared in the Bay Journal News Service .



Posted on May 15, 2012Commentary by Cindy RossOnce considered the “redwoods of the East,” American chestnut trees were mighty giants that blanketed the eastern Appalachians. Infected by a fungus imported on a load of lumber or living trees shortly after 1900, native chestnuts had all but disappeared by 1940. Now, after decades of restoration work, the species is evolving into a success story, albeit a slow-to-occur one.

Throughout the watershed, work is being done by state chapters of The American Chestnut Foundation. In Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, hundreds of volunteers are working to create blight-resistant American chestnut trees by hand pollinating, inoculating to assess blight resistance, backcrossing to keep as much American character as possible, and test planting. Continue reading