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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Reviving the American chestnut tree

July
28

The American chestnut tree once accounted for about 25 percent of all the trees found from Maine to Florida and west to the Ohio Valley.

They were 100 feet tall and five feet in diameter. The species was a favorite with American colonists and immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Village Blacksmith,� which begins, “Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands.�

But a fungus that arrived from Asia around 1900 devastated the species. By 1950, about 3.5 billion American chestnut trees had been killed, most of them in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The agency’s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement is now working with the American Chestnut Foundation to bring the species back. They’re planting seedlings at coal mines that were reclaimed under the agency’s oversight throughout Appalachia.

So far, more than 3,000 trees have been planted. Because the reclaimed mine sites are surrounded by forests, the Interior Department said wildlife will spread tree to neighboring forests, allowing nature to repopulate the Alleghenies with the American chestnut.

Learn more about the <a href=“http://www.doi.gov/issues/chestnut.html� target=�_blank�>American chestnut tree.</a>

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 28th, 2007 at 7:30 am by Laura Incalcaterra. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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