Conservation Project: American Chestnut Restoration

We woke up early in anticipation of our conservation day. Earlier in the month we were notified that our conservation project at Allatoona Lake was going to be TOP SECRET. We were working with hybrid chestnuts at **LOCATION REMOVED** and pretty much tending to them. The hybrid chestnuts are a backcross of Chinese and American Chestnuts. Before the 1900’s American chestnuts were a main part of the hardwoods in the eastern United States. Chinese chestnuts were brought from Asia for landscaping purposes and brought with them a fungus that would eventually kill off most of the American chestnuts in the Eastern U.S. While American chestnuts used to be upwards to 60-100 feet tall, they are now small shrubs that end up dying off before producing fruit. The chestnut blight has since been on the run and the American chestnut foundation has been looking for solutions to the problem. They have since created these hybrids. The newest hybrid is located at Allatoona Lake at **LOCATION REMOVED** and is the only orchard in the U.S. The trees are the product of decades of hard work and the Army Corps along with the American Chestnut Foundation are monitoring them in hopes of them producing fruit and nuts which then can be transferred into the forests. Our job is to water about 300 of these plants, weed the surrounding areas, and record data about their status. The day started off early and we met around 9 with Park ranger Shea to start our work. I came out with my camera and snapped pictures of blue tubes with tiny plants. We started weeding with weed whackers and recording data while the sun came up. The area was tall with weeds and it took eight hours to get the job done. By three, we were all hot and exhausted. This work is hard especially under the summer sun. The finished product was happy trees and a clean area.

Written by Angela