Reviving the American chestnut tree
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 LongfellowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poem, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Village Blacksmith,Ã¢â‚¬? which begins, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands.Ã¢â‚¬?
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 agencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement is now working with the American Chestnut Foundation to bring the species back. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re planting seedlings at coal mines that were reclaimed under the agencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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=Ã¢â‚¬Å“http://www.doi.gov/issues/chestnut.htmlÃ¢â‚¬? target=Ã¢â‚¬?_blankÃ¢â‚¬?>American chestnut tree.</a>