The American Chestnut Foundation Needs Citizen Scientists to Test Potentially Blight-Resistant Chestnut Seeds

February 4, 2010

ASHEVILLE, N.C., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ — The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF®) has taken an unprecedented step toward the restoration of the American chestnut tree by offering a limited number of its most advanced and potentially blight-resistant seeds to both new and existing sponsor members for planting and testing. This is the very first time any of these seeds have been made widely available to members and it comes on the heels of over 26 years of intense evaluation by scientists throughout the natural range of the chestnut. Members can test these seeds for blight-resistance and American growth characteristics.

When the chestnut blight came through the eastern US in the first half of the 20th century and killed nearly four billion American chestnut trees, all seemed to be lost for this once mighty species. Since 1983, TACF has remained focused on a seemingly impossible goal: to restore the American chestnut to the eastern United States. With this seed distribution program, TACF is one step closer to the restoration of this crucial species but there is much more to be done.

TACF President and CEO Bryan Burhans said, “TACF wants to share this milestone with our members that have worked so tirelessly to get us to this stage. For too many years we’ve had members call us, wanting the opportunity to plant these trees in their fields and backyards. We now have a limited number of seeds available for testing and evaluation. By planting these chestnuts, you become a citizen scientist for TACF. It is such an exciting time to be a member.”

Burhans notes, “This is just an early stage in a very long process. There is no guarantee that these seeds will have adequate resistance to the blight, although we are hopeful. Testing by our members will help the organization evaluate resistance across a wide geographic range under diverse planting conditions.”

In spring 2008, TACF, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and University of Tennessee-Knoxville, planted five hundred potentially blight-resistant chestnuts on three national forests in the southeast. After one year, the seedlings are thriving in a forest setting. The availability of these very same seeds to both long-time TACF members as well as new sponsor members is another step in a $16 million program that includes more than 60,000 trees and encompasses six generations of breeding.

For information on becoming part of this exciting new venture, please contact TACF at (828) 281-0047 for membership particulars and benefits.

About TACF

The American Chestnut Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Asheville, NC. It has nearly 6,000 members and chapters in 17 states. The demise of the American chestnut tree due to chestnut blight has been called the greatest ecological disaster of the 20th century. TACF was established in 1983 with the sole purpose of restoring this majestic tree to its native forests in the eastern United States. Today, TACF’s research farms encompass nearly 160 acres and more than 60,000 American and Chinese chestnut trees which are part of its national breeding program. For more information about TACF or volunteering to help restore the American chestnut, visit our website at www.acf.org

    Contact:  Meghan Jordan
    The American Chestnut Foundation
    (828) 281-0047

SOURCE The American Chestnut Foundation

Source: newswire

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