17 March 2017

Barry Thacker, PE, and Carol Moore were again invited to Dutch Valley School’s annual Science Day held yesterday. We brought American Chestnuts (nuts), newspapers, yogurt containers, and potting mix and every student (Pre-K to 5th grade) got to make their own pot and plant the nut to take home and grow a tree to plant wherever they wish. Prior to the early 1900’s, the American chestnut was king of the Appalachian forest, but a blight carried by Chinese chestnuts killed most of the American chestnuts during the early part of the 20th century. For the past 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. The Appalachian coal fields are at the center of the historical range of the American chestnut. Furthermore, researchers have found that trees grow faster on mine sites reclaimed by leaving loose, rocky spoil exposed at ground surface than in a natural forest. This new reclamation technique is called the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) and mine sites prepared by this method are ideal locations for introducing the blight-resistant hybrids to the natural range of the American chestnut.

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