Copper Basin, Tennessee
April 2020

The Coal Creek Watershed Foundation has been assisting with restoration of the Great American Chestnut on reclaimed mine land since 2008.  Each year we invite students from the closest school to the mine site to assist with the planting. This year, for the third year, we had scheduled Ginger Montgomery's students from Copper Basin High School to assist with a planting event in the Copper Basin.  Due to the quarantine closing schools, they did not get to join us. Instead, on 16 April 2020, fifty blight-resistant American chestnut hybrids were planted on reclaimed mine land of Copperhill Industries by David Turner--retired Environmental Consultant with the Division of Water Resources Mining Section of TN Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Josh Haynes—Copperhill Industries, John LeCroy--Regional Director of External Affairs at the TDEC, Scott Deal—Glenn Springs Development, Barry Thacker and Carol Moore—Coal Creek Watershed Foundation. Copperhill Industries was the host and TDEC was a participant. The planting site is an EPA Superfund Site and with approval from EPA and TDEC ,Copperhill Industries were allowed to plant trees as a part of the reclamation activity. This is a coordinated effort with all agencies, private companies, non-government organizations and the school participating.    Prior to the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, one-fourth of the trees in Appalachian forests were American chestnuts. Barry Thacker grows the trees from the nuts and shares them each spring to restore the species on reclaimed mine sites. For over 30 years, the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) has been developing a hybrid that is 94% American chestnut and 6% Chinese chestnut. The hybrid will retain the virtues of the American chestnut as a large forest tree with a sweet-tasting nut, but with the blight-resistance of its Chinese cousin.