In July 2021, the CT-TACF Chapter held several Chestnut Hikes to search for new sources of American chestnut germplasm. The CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection had previously performed habitat management harvests at many parcels of state-owned land to create early successional habitat for the New England Cottontail, a species that was proposed for listing on the Endangered Species List. Since these forest management practices provide an opportunity for chestnut sprouts to grow quickly in abundant sunshine, we targeted these areas at about 3-5 years after harvest to look for flowering American chestnut saplings.
Several young flowering trees were found at both the Wyantenock State Forest in Warren and the Naugatuck State Forest in Hamden. Some of them were also noted to already have small numbers of female flowers. Both of these areas will be revisited in the fall to see if mature burs have developed on those trees. These natural chestnut nurseries will hopefully provide us with several years of American chestnuts to plant in our Germplasm Conservation Orchards.